BUCS Super Rugby and the Women’s National League returned to action last week following a Christmas hiatus.
It may be a new year, but both leagues picked up from exactly where they left off with Round 12 bringing us high-scoring thrillers and some major upsets.
BUCS Super Rugby’s shock result came up north as Cardiff Met University travelled to Durham University, with the visitors looking to secure their fourth win in a row and also find some consistency that has so far eluded them in this campaign.
A strong performance from the boot of Calum Grieve helped race the hosts into a 17-12 lead, but Met were resilient and a converted try in the 77th minute secured the Welsh institution a famous win.
Hollow Drift has been a fortress all season for Durham and prior to last Wednesday’s game, they had not lost a fixture there this campaign emphasising just how impressive Danny Milton’s side were ahead of this week's meeting with Bath.
The headline game of Round 12 was a repeat of last year’s final, as Loughborough University welcomed Exeter University to the Midlands.
The hosts started the game 12 points behind Exeter, making this a must-win fixture if they were to have any chance of catching the Green and Whites and defending their league title.
The back-to-back national champions took a 14-10 lead into half-time, and a further two tries in the second half from Louie Gulley and Benjy Joseland were enough to earn them a 27-20 triumph and all five points. It was a result that dropped Loughborough into sixth place and extended Exeter’s lead at the top of the table.
Some shuffling around after round 12 ??— BUCS Super Rugby (@BUCSSuperRugby) January 26, 2024
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At the opposite end of the division, Nottingham University took on Swansea University, with both sides hoping to avoid sitting rock bottom after Round 12.
Both have struggled for wins this season, but this clash showed no signs of a lack of ambition as they played out a 97-point thriller, with the game ending 57-40 to hosts Nottingham.
It was a significant result for the Midlands institution as they leapfrogged Swansea and were lifted from the foot of the table for the first time since gameweek one.
Leeds Beckett University have so far been having somewhat of a redemption season and they have already taken some big scalps, including that of Cardiff Met University.
Last week, they travelled south to take on Bath University with both sides searching for a must-needed win to put them in contention for a home quarter-final.
A strong second-half performance from the Blue and Golds, with tries from Jasper Sandler and Iwan Coyle, earned Bath a crucial 24-12 victory, moving them into fifth spot and only a single point behind Cardiff Met.
Fresh off a comfortable win against Nottingham University, Hartpury University welcomed Cardiff University, as the hosts looked to secure their fifth win on the trot.
Hartpury are the most in-form team in the league, and they certainly proved that once again as they dismantled a struggling Cardiff side 43-25.
This bonus point victory takes Hartpury up to second spot in the table but only five points separate them and sixth-placed Loughborough, once again proving how tightly contested the best league in the land continues to be.
Round 13 of the Women’s National League unsurprisingly brought us equal amounts of entertainment.
In a repeat of last year’s final, Exeter University took on Hartpury University, with the Devonian institution once more looking to take down the back-to-back national champions after beating them 31-24 back in October.
Exeter started well, with an early try from Sophie Langford putting them 7-0 up. However, Hartpury responded in devastating fashion as they scored five unanswered tries to take them into half-time with a 35-7 lead.
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Despite a strong second-half response from Exeter, in which they earned a try bonus point, the deficit was too big to overturn and a 47-22 win extended Hartpury’s lead at the top of the WNL to six points
Loughborough University haven’t won a WNL match since Round Eight and Durham University have failed to secure a victory since Round Five, so both sides went into this week’s clash in desperate need of a positive result.
It was the visitors, Loughborough, who prevailed and they did so in emphatic fashion, handing out a 77-5 point demolition to Durham.
Despite conceding an average of 53.9 points a game through eight matches, Durham University are only two points off sixth-placed Cardiff with two games in hand, but they will certainly need to fix their defensive issues to have a hope of dragging themselves up the table.
BUCS Super Rugby
Cardiff Met vs Bath
Cardiff vs Loughborough
Exeter vs Swansea
Nottingham vs Durham
Leeds Beckett vs Hartpury
Women's National League
Durham vs Exeter