Kofi Barton-Byfield scoring a try (Credit: Mike Powell)
EURFC take Sandy Park by storm with a 27-14 victory over Cardiff Met.
After so long without the roar of a Sandy Park crowd, it was EURFC who ended the night singing in the rain, as they took the spoils from a physical encounter with Cardiff Met in a 27-14 victory.
Varsity returned to Sandy Park last Wednesday (27/10/21) with Cardiff Met being their Round 5 BUCS Super Legue competitors. Students came back to the ground once again to cheer on the men's rugby team as they take on their close rivals in the legue tables. EURFC's head of media Harry Scott-Munro, brings you the match report of the game:
The early pressure was all from the visitors, as they looked to silence the Sandy Park crowd. As Met continued to pressure the Exeter defensive line around the 22, eventually they found their reward, Brad Roderick-Evans slotting a penalty, after EURFC had infringed at the breakdown.
That seemed to spur Exeter into life, as Man of the Match Toby Smith cut a fine line in midfield. Exeter seemed to be in the attacking ascendency, but the pass out to Barton-Byfield on the wing bobbled into touch.
Exeter were still struggling to get going at this point and the visitors were to make them pay moments later, as Roderick-Evans slotted his second penalty of the night.
That was soon to change though, as Arthur Relton burst through several would-be tackles, to drive to within a metre of the line. Cameron Bullard then went close, before the ball was spun wide to Charlie McCaig. The centre initially failed to gather the ball but was able to pop it up to Eddie Bullock, who showed power and pace to force his way over the line for Exeter’s first score of the night.
Met though were soon back in the ascendency, as Exeter’s ill-discipline allowed them to camp themselves in the Exeter 22. They thought they were in for their first try of the evening as well, as Max Cunnington dived over out wide, only for the referee to pull play back after the final pass from Ivanisevic drifted forward.
Moments later, Arthur Thomas saw yellow, as the referee finally had enough of Exeter’s repeated penalties.
With the rain starting to fall, the game turned into somewhat of a frenetic affair, as Josh Barton and then Cardiff Met’s Jack Silvester both made blistering individual breaks then came to nothing as both defences stood firm.
Roderick-Evans and Barton then exchanged penalties, before Met made a last-ditch effort to increase their advantage, captain Morgan Nelson getting to within inches of the Exeter line, only for Archie Hosking to pop up with a crucial last-ditch turnover, as Exeter were able to breathe a mighty sigh of relief.
HALF-TIME SCORE: EXETER UNIVERSITY 8-9 CARDIFF MET
Now playing into the half of the pitch where the Exeter supporters were the most vocal, the home side began the second-half with a renewed intensity as they searched for a reversal of the narrow deficit.
The breakthrough eventually came through wing Kofi Barton-Byfield, who showed a stunning turn of pace to beat the covering defenders and muscle his way over, after Eddie Bullock had fed him the ball with a sumptuous wide pass.
Barton missed the conversion from the near touchline, before Roderick-Evans then missed a penalty for Cardiff Met.
As the rain began to pelt down even harder, Met continued to apply further pressure, matched by the Exeter defence, as Bullock and McCaig snuffed out a promising looking Met attack.
The visitors kept pouring forward though with wave after wave of attack, Will Rigg popping the ball off to Jack Silvester, only for Toby Smith to pop up with a crunching tackle to deny the fullback the score. Eventually, Roderick-Evans floated the ball wide to Silvester on the far side to race in. Again though, the referee deemed the final pass to have floated forwards. It was a somewhat harsh call on the visitors, but they came back for the penalty advantage, opting for the scrum.
Exeter’s pack, just like last week against Leeds Beckett, stood up when it mattered most, winning a penalty at the scrum, allowing Barton to clear his lines.
Things were to get even better for EURFC moments later as well, in the most fortuitous of circumstances.
After a bouncing ball caused chaos in the Met backline, Will Rigg was unable to control it between his legs. The coolest head amongst the confusion though, was Barton-Byfield, as he latched onto the ball and shrugged off the final defender, to dive over and spark delirium in the crowd, Barton converting from in front of the posts.
Exeter were now in the ascendency, Toby Smith putting in a crunching hit on Bingo Ivanisevic to halt the Met centre in his tracks.
There was to be one final moment of joy for EURFC, as replacement Jack Potter marked a meteoric rise through the club ranks by securing the bonus-point try at Sandy Park.
Off the back of the scrum, flyhalf Barton spotted a gap and raced through, feeding Potter on his inside to race under the posts for the try, Barton converting again from in front of the posts.
There was to be one final moment for Cardiff Met, as wing Roma Zheng eventually tiptoed over out wide after an overthrown Exeter lineout had given Met a final attacking opportunity.
It mattered little to the final outcome though, as Exeter saw out the match to secure another memorable Sandy Park Varsity victory.
Harry Scott-Munro (Head of Media EURFC)
Date: 2 November 2021