Max Brown guides Nottingham to debut BUCS Super Rugby triumph

The University of Nottingham's maiden BSR win was their 17th straight victory

The University of Nottingham made a fairytale start to life in BUCS Super Rugby as they beat Leeds Beckett 31-15.

The Yorkshire outfit had the better of a fractured opening 30 minutes, with Connor Hancock going over from close-range before Alex Davies landed a penalty.

However, the Green and Gold sparked into life as tries from the excellent Max Brown and Lewis Pickford gave Nottingham a 14-10 interval lead.

After the break, BSR's newcomers hammered home their advantage and two touchdowns by Connor Moyse and a penalty try sealed a maiden victory for Paul Westgate's men.

Alex Green did dot down in the second period for Leeds Beckett, but Kerry Wood's new-look squad will now have to regroup ahead of next week's clash with the University of Bath.

On what was a historic day for Nottingham, the Midlands side were looking to hit the ground running after an excellent 2021-22 in which they lifted the BUCS Vase trophy and gained promotion to the top-flight.

Notts entered BSR on the back of 16 straight wins in all competitions, but despite being roared on by a vocal crowd at Highfields, the sense of occasion looked to be getting to them in the first period.

The early exchanges were scrappy but Leeds Beckett began to show some purpose and were rewarded when Hancock powered over after 10 minutes.

The visitors started to take ownership of proceedings and winger Jody Devine went close in the corner before a wave of Beckett pressure was turned into three points via the boot of Davies.

The hosts needed to cut out their errors in order to get a foothold in this contest and captain James Cherry seemingly provided Nottingham with the inspiration they craved as a powerful carry generated some much-needed momentum for the home side.

After winning a lineout inside the Beckett 22, Nottingham immediately knocked the ball on but Davies' clearance was superbly charged down by Henry Mortimer. The Green and Gold worked their way through the phases and after Dani Long-Martinez went close, Brown skipped under the posts to round off the move.

The fly-half sprinkled some magic again as two pinpoint kicks, including a 50-22, put Beckett under pressure and the away side cracked on the stroke of half-time with Pickford benefitting from a driving maul.

Following the interval, Nottingham picked up from where they left off as lovely hands from Brown found Morsey who ran a great support line to race over on 43 minutes.

Beckett did hit back though as replacement scrum-half Mason Winterburn - who also featured for Wasps in Tuesday's Premiership Cup outing against Leicester Tigers - produced a sublime chip to the corner and with the angle against him, Green brilliantly dotted down.

However, injuries to key personnel such as Davies and full-back Matt Salisbury disrupted Beckett and Nottingham put their foot on the pedal to take the game away from their visitors.

Notts were awarded a penalty try and with confidence coursing through their veins, Morsey latched on to a beautifully weighted kick from man-of-the-match Brown to make sure of the victory.

The hosts were also strong in defence and continued to stand firm in the latter stages of this encounter to the delight of Westgate, his team and the swathes of home supporters at Highfields.


Head of Performance Rugby at the University of Nottingham Paul Westgate: "Initial thoughts were relief after the opening 30 minutes where we were very much on the back foot. I thought we regrouped well. I thought our defence was immense and really laid the foundation for us to start playing. Initially, we couldn't do anything with the ball but we grew in confidence.

"We were a bit anxious coming into it, but the boys made a big statement today. We have got a great squad. We have got a great culture and we are excited. We want to enjoy the journey."

Nottingham's Lewis Barrett: "It is unbelievable. We just stuck with it. The first 30 minutes we were struggling with discipline, but it just shows the ability of the squad, the coaching staff and the culture here. We have come from 3rd in North A, to Covid year, to first in Premier North to winning our first BUCS Super Rugby game. It shows we have got a lot more to give."

Elsewhere in BSR

Oscar van Deventer's late try handed Cardiff University a dramatic 22-21 victory over the University of Bath.

The centre touched down in the corner to seal the win after Cardiff had led 17-7 in a topsy-turvey tie. After Bath co-captain Alfie Garside had opened the scoring, Van Deventer replied for the Welsh visitors before Rhydian Williams and Ed Dunford crossed.

However, the home side hit back through George Doel and Max Pearce to turn the game on its head but with victory in sight, Cardiff were able to snatch the win.

BUCS Super Rugby Championship winners the University of Exetewere unable to start the defence of their title with a victory as Hartpury came away from Topsham with a 31-30 success.

The Green and Whites held a 13-point lead at the break thanks to tries from Will de Boehmler, Oli Burrows and Benjy Joseland and the hosts looked in complete control when Chester Ribbons made it 23-5.

Hartpury retaliated through Matt Ward to reduce the gap but Joseland's second on 50 minutes kept Exeter in the ascendancy. However, two quick-fire tries before the hour brought the three-time champions back into the contest and indiscipline was beginning to plague the hosts.

And with four minutes to go, Hartpury completed a remarkable turnaround as Will Goffey dotted down from another strong maul to clinch a statement victory for Dan Murphy's men.

League champions Durham University began the new campaign with a 25-17 victory over Loughborough University.

Jake Spurway and Olly Walker dived over and Will Nicholson added a penalty as Durham led 15-0 after 15 minutes.

A penalty try awarded to Loughborough reduced their lead and a Sam Kildunne score changed the shape of this contest at Hollow Drift.

Another three points from Nicholson enabled Durham to pull further ahead, but some excellent individual work from Jake Metcalfe and Oscar Daniel resulted in James Langston scoring the first try of the second period for Loughborough.

With just a point separating the sides heading into the final quarter, it was a tense finale in the North East but a magical move from Durham involving Pat Bishop and Mikey Ford was rounded off by Paul Brown to seal the win.

Meanwhile, Cardiff Met came from 25-19 down against Welsh counterparts Swansea University to win 42-30 in their opener.

First half tries from Rory Morgan, Roma Zheng and Barny Langton for The Archers were cancelled out by Swansea's Ben Gregory, Rory Case and Oscar Stewart with Bernardo Nogueria kicking 10 points.

However, Danny Milton's side turned the game in their favour in the second 40 as Jake Bond's effort and two penalties gave them a seven-point lead.

A strong lineout try from Swansea cut the gap, but the visitors responded with their fifth try of the afternoon before a further penalty made sure of the victory.