Rugby varsity against Bath at Sandy Park. Picture kindly provided by Unisportonline.

Exeter triumphant in thrilling Varsity

Exeter University Rugby Football Club (EURFC) upset the odds to win their second successive Varsity at Sandy Park on Wednesday 9th November. Despite having lost their first two league games of the season, the ‘Green Machine’ were spurred on to a 16-14 victory against table-toppers Bath by a partisan home crowd.

After a day of persistent rain, Bath started the brighter in the tricky conditions and went ahead after just two minutes through a penalty from fly-half Zak Vinnicombe.  However, Exeter hit back soon after against the run of play. After putting pressure on the Bath scrum, Exeter broke through Jonny Ellis who offloaded for winger Rob Hockedy to score in the corner.  Bath were soon back in front though as the impressive Vinnicombe was successful with another penalty. At the other end, Rhys Morgan was struggling to find his range and missed an opportunity to put Exeter back in control. After a spell of pressure from the home team, Bath hit back with a counter attack that was only denied by an excellent tackle in the corner from Laurence Jullens. The following line-out led to a sustained period of pressure from the away side which eventually resulted in Bath Academy player Will Skuse going over from short range and giving his side a six point advantage at half time.

After entertainment from the Exeter cheerleaders during the interval, the teams emerged back onto the field knowing that the next 40 minutes would define their season. Exeter applied pressure from the re-start and two Morgan penalties soon put them back on level terms. This spurred the home side on and led by inspirational captain Matt Chambers, they became more dominant as the half progressed. They were rewarded in the 65th minute when the only Fresher in the squad, Richard Sinel, scored after a break from a quickly taken penalty. Bath responded though and reduced the deficit to 2 points through a Vinnicombe drop goal, setting up a nervy finale. Despite waves of Bath attacks, EURFC held on and nearly scored another try at the death.

The Exeter victory was fully deserved and was greeted by mass celebrations by the home players and supporters at the full time whistle. As well as moving Exeter off the bottom of the BUCS Premier South A table, the match also raised a vast sum of money for Henry’s Trust and can once again be seen as a massive success.

Written by Simon Dewhurst – Unisportonline

Date: 14 November 2011