Varsity Rugby League Report
4th May 2015
The final moments of the match:
Interview with winning UoN captain Adam Cunliffe:
Rugby League is never a fixture within the Varsity series that Uni of fans like to keep long in the memory. Haunted by consistent defeats to Trent over previous seasons, including the infamous 40-12 drubbing of last year, the signs were pretty ominous going into the match at Lady Bay. What was about to unfold, however, would shock even the most optimistic of Uni of supporters.
Trent looked bright in the early stages with Lewis Allott seeing plenty of the ball. Clark Squires was another involved in the thick of the action for Trent as he attempted to get the game going with a clever grubber kick through the heart of Uni of’s defence, only for the ball to just narrowly trickle out of play before any Trent player could get on the receiving end. A few minutes later, Squires was again involved as he faked and slipped it to Daniel Harrison, only for the Trent number 4 to be stopped at the crucial stages.
At this stage, Trent looked the most likely to make something happen without really penetrating too much, before a moment of magic lit up Lady Bay‘s green and gold-filled home stand. Brilliant play from Pat Crummay and Sam Wordsworth allowed captain Adam Cunliffe to slide in, with the first try of the game going to Uni of. James Adamson scored the simplest of conversions to give the boys an emphatic 6-0.
This moment of inspiration seemed to fire on the players to want to increase their lead, most notably Crummay and Wordsworth, who expertly took down Trent’s Ben Wombwell when he might have had an opportunity to get behind Uni of lines. This tackle symbolised Uni of’s defensive tactics as the green and gold boys seemed to be defending from the front as high up the pitch as possible and most strikingly, in packs of twos and threes. Crummay’s influence was evident as the Uni of fans began to repeatedly chant his name, with one spectator noting how he was ‘involved in every f****** tackle!’ Adamson and Brad Skelly continued to be involved in some great bursts of play, as Uni of continued their exciting pressing game. Trent were evidently frustrated by this with both Chris Sutcliffe and Squires being thwarted by good Uni of defensive play, whilst Wombwell got into a brief spat with Skelly, although tensions were soon diffused.
Whilst some might have predicted that Uni of’s purple patch in the game was about to expire, Nathan Hill had other ideas. The fullback picked up the ball just short of the halfway line and proceeded with a powerful surge, carrying it a good 45 metres, before grounding the ball and giving Uni of their second try of the game. This time Adamson failed to convert the resultant kick, but nothing could take away from the outrageous run from Hill, marking one of the game’s most phenomenal moments. The scoreboard marked a 10-0 lead for Uni of.
No sooner had Uni of given themselves breathing space, they were pegged back as Trent were beginning to get a foothold into the match. Scott Howkins scored the try for the boys in pink, although Squires missed the easiest of conversions to ensure that the game remained at 10-4. Moments later, Uni of fans had their hearts in their mouths, as Trent nearly scored another, only for Matt Ross to drop the ball on the try line. Within a few seconds of this potentially crucial moment of the match, the referee blew for half time allowing the Uni of boys to regroup and refocus.
HT score: Uni of 10-4 Trent
Into the second half and Hill looked lively again for Uni of although their kicking proved to be wasteful as they seemed to be giving away needless possession. Trent made this mistake pay, as Jay Moriarty went over to grab Trent’s second try of the match. Trent changed their kicker to Niall Crowcroft, hoping for a better outcome to last time, although once again they missed the resultant conversion; a huge let-off for Uni of. Despite the poor state of Trent kicking, Uni of were well aware that the enemy had clawed their way back into the game, with the scores now perfectly poised at 10-8.
Trent were now firmly in control of the match as Harrison dropped the ball at a crucial moment on the try line, whilst a wayward pass inside the Uni of defensive third was very nearly capitalised on. With the scores still incredibly tight, a moment of madness ensued as Ross saw red for lashing out and kicking at Wordsworth whilst he was down on the floor, after a tussle for possession. If anything, having one less player spurred Trent on, as they took the lead for the first time in the match through Harrison. Crowcroft missed the conversion once again – Trent’s third miss of the game – although Trent now had a 10-12 lead and looked to have snatched the game away from the valiant attempts of the underdogs.
But Uni of hadn’t given up quite yet and after Hill yet again started another dangerous break, Trent were reduced further still to just eleven men, as Howkins received a yellow card and was sent to the sin bin as a result of dangerous play in bringing down Hill. This sparked the green and gold boys into life and after looking threatening, Nathan Hill bagged his second try of the match with Adamson successfully scoring the conversion, meaning that Uni of had retaken the lead, 16-12!
The subsequent celebrations told you everything you needed to know, as Uni of could sense that they were closing in on a famous victory. To ensure that they could write their names into Nottingham Varsity Rugby League history, the Uni of boys stepped it up a gear as they poured everything they had into the final five minutes. Adam Simm went on a mazy run as he looked to take more Trent players out of the game, whilst Elliott Spindler’s heroics resulted in him losing his scrum cap! The green and gold boys had given everything as multiple players pulled up for cramp in the closing seconds.
And that’s when Nathan Hill decided to take matters into his own hands as he put the icing on the cake, scoring a brilliant try to complete his hat-trick and give Uni of the 20-12 win in the Nottingham Varsity Rugby League. This provided one of the shocks of the series so far as Uni of extended their lead to 9-6 overall to put them within two wins of triumphing in the 2015 Varsity.
FT score: Uni of 20-12 Trent
University of Nottingham (10) 20
Tries: Cunliffe, Hill 3 Goals: Adamson 2
Nottingham Trent University (4) 12
Tries: Howkins, Moriarty, Harrison
University of Nottingham: Nathan Hill, Vinny Lombardo, Adam Simm, James Adamson, Huw Edwards, Adam Cunliffe (captain), Brad Skelly, Josh Williams, Eddie Foulkes, Pat Crummay, Cam Lindsay, Dan Crabtree, Tom Rose, Sam Wordsworth, Jay Patrick, Elliott Spindler, James Woodhouse
Nottingham Trent University: Ali Fitzsimons, Timo Burbidge, Chris Sutcliffe, Daniel Harrison, Ben Wombwell, Dom Preece, Clark Squires, Callum Heseltine, Niall Crowcroft, Matt Ross, Jay Moriarty, Lewis Allott, Dave Jagger (captain), Scott Howkins, Jordan Elphick, Elliott Hagan, Ben Minett
URN man of the match: Nathan Hill
Simon Shah and Jordan Rinsler