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Saints Win Historic Scottish Varsity Match

Tuesday 01 October 2013

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The oldest university rugby match in the world took place on Saturday between University of St Andrews and University of Edinburgh at London Scottish RFC. The match is now in its third year as a big event and is growing in stature in the rugby calendar with a big crowd out to support both teams at Richmond.

The game itself was a cracker!! It quite literally had everything. Tries, a red card, excitement and great rugby from both teams putting to shame the warm up game between London Scottish and Nottingham in the IPA Championship, which was nothing more than a scrum fest with both teams not trying to play any rugby.

The Scottish Varsity match however had some scintillating rugby from both teams with a real blend of forward control and backline attack. The game kicked off with great intensity and Danny Clink opened the scoring with well struck penalty in the opening minutes.  Saints lost their centre Alex Kennedy after he produced a huge tackle but injured himself in the process and had to leave the field. Whilst he was down Edinburgh scored a good breakaway try through their winger.  Saints responded quickly however with some good phase play and a great offload by flanker Ciaran Harris set Clink away down the right and Sean Murchie dived in at the corner for the opening try.  

Saints were struggling at scrumtime but had the lineout as a good option to launch their attacks and whilst Saints pressurized, Edinburgh continued to infringe and were constantly giving away penalties.  The play of both teams impressed the large crowd and the defence in particular had the cheers coming from the stands.  2more penalties from Danny Clink after yet again Edinburgh infringing but this time losing a man to the sin-bin forced University of St Andrews into a strong lead. Edinburgh knocked over a penalty as half time approached to sneak closer.

Halftime score 14-8 to University of St Andrews and them very much in the ascendancy.  Clear messages and calm heads at half time were in order and the thought of breaking Edinburgh’s dominance  of the fixture over the past two years.

Edinburgh struggled massively to cope with the pressure placed on them by St Andrews and conceded more penalties meaning once again they had a man in the sin bin early in the 2nd half.  The offloading of the Saints forwards was causing the main problem for Edinburgh and great ball out of contact from George Hailstone and Bertie Ridley-Thomas had the team from the capital on the back foot.  A nasty incident then took centre stage when right in front of the packed stand of supporters, the Edinburgh second row spear tackled Sean Murchie and was shown a straight red card. Edinburgh’s ill-discipline was putting them out of the game and Saints knocked over another penalty to go 17-8 up.  

Moving into the last 15 minutes, the atmosphere got tense as Edinburgh frantically tried to get back into the game and an excellent set piece move allowed their centre to go through a gap in midfield to put the match on a knife edge with only two points the difference, 17-15. It was not to be however as for the last 10 minutes University of St Andrews camped on the Edinburgh line and scored a great try with an effective catch and drive from Lewis Stewart.  Danny Clink sealed a dramatic victory with the touchline conversion meaning Edinburgh would have to score twice in the dying minutes to win.

 As the final whistle went jubilant scenes from The Saints players and supporters too erupted and the relief that they held their composure and nerve to win such a historic fixture.   Winning 1st XV captain Jeremy Gordon was ecstatic after the win ‘I knew we could do it. We have had a great few weeks at the start of the season and have been building towards this match and the huge occasion. The lads were fantastic throughout and we really put so much pressure on Edinburgh which they couldn’t handle. I’m so happy and immensely proud.

Director of Rugby David Ross commented ‘That was a huge performance from the squad and a thoroughly deserved victory. Edinburgh struggled with our ability to move the ball and the desire of our players to win. This event has been dominated by Edinburgh in previous years but this year is our time and the players and management staff must take a huge amount of pride in how we played. The game was extremely physical, with three of our players needing to go to hospital with serious injuries, showing the body-on-the-line mentality that the players have and the high standard of rugby that both teams are playing. The physicality was won by us tonight and ultimately that meant we came out on top.’

Final Score University of St Andrews 24-15 University of Edinburgh

Man of the match: Danny Clink

Posted under: Clubs