DMU narrowly lose out to UoL at Varsity after refusing to settle for a draw
Captain Jon Cook lead his team out at Stoughton Road on Wednesday afternoon for what proved to be one of the most enthralling varsity encounters that will forever go down in the history of rugby at De Montfort University.
Full-back Nathan Groves kicked the match underway before both sides conceded a series of penalties in the opening ten minutes, the varsity nerves clearly on display from the two sets of players.
It was to be Leicester that would make the breakthrough however as pacey winger, Declan Nwachukwu, found himself on the end of a debatable forward pass to run in for a try, which was converted by fly-half Tom Welllman, providing the home side with a 7-0 lead.
De Montfort picked their heads up however, and took the game to Leicester right from the restart, as a fumbled catch from UoL saw DMU awarded a line-out from which they regained possession.
DMU began stringing their passes together with the occasional sidestep from fly-half Declan Bassett to boot, making good ground deep into Leicester’s half, where the home side looked uncomfortable, conceding penalty after penalty that DMU capitalised upon.
Full-back Nathan Groves came into his own, collecting his nerves to slot home three penalties without reply, keeping the scoreboard ticking over and making the scores 9-7 to the visitors. Providing DMU with a two-point lead going into the interval
The boot of Wellman got the game back underway, with De Montfort having to dig in deep for what was to follow.
An onslaught of attack for the next half an hour saw the DMU pack have to answer several questions regarding their defending, which stood firm and proved resilient, resembling a barricade as they quelled everything UoL could muster, doing so without conceding a single point.
It was only when the ball was overturned and cleared that UoL finally found some reward for their efforts, as Leicester’s Declan Nwachukwu once again went over under the posts for his second try of the match, which was converted for a 14-9 lead.
UoL’s ill-discipline soon proved costly as they were reduced to 14, the referee rightly sending flanker Angus Littleford to the sin-bin for foul play at the breakdown.
De Montfort once again came out firing from the restart with a number of strong, powerful scrums from a dominant forward pack gave the underdogs a huge advantage as they headed into the final few minutes.
Scrum-half Pip Reed fed the ball into the scrum and found Bassett with a quick pass for him to force his way over the try line to the delight of the travelling crowd. But perhaps the adrenaline and occasion got to try-scorer as his conversion attempt sailed agonisingly wide.
With only a couple of minutes to play Wellman gave UoL a three-point buffer as his penalty kick was sent through the middle of the posts.
De Montfort knew they had nothing to lose now, and a late penalty kick to touch from captain Cook was to be the final passage of play. Had he opted to kick for goal, which would have levelled the game at 17-17, the match would have resulted in a draw, ‘but that’s not the DMU way’, and in search for a winning try Leicester turned over and put the ball out to finish the game.
Full-time at Stoughton Road, University of Leicester 17-14 De Montfort University.
Spirits were not low for long within the camp though as senior club members reminded players of the importance what they had achieved today with their valiant performance.
First team captain Tim Gilbert shared his delight with his club teammates.
“Having watched the game last year in which they put 40 to 50 points on us you can all be proud of your efforts today,” Tim explained.
Jon Cook added: “It has been a pleasure to captain this team all season.
“We may not have won today but we can leave knowing we have the moral victory.
“We could have easily taken the draw at the end but that’s not the DMU way.”
The first team varsity fixture will be played at Welford Road on Wednesday May 11 at 8pm. Tickets can be bought at the DSU Sports Office for £5 each.