Men's Rugby Varsity: white wash win for UKC

Photography by Cassandra Barnard (Photographer)

"From a steady scrum, the backs used the platform to run their lines at Christ Church."

Rugby 2s and 3s Varsity

By Ben Lovell-Smith

On a sunny February afternoon, the expectation was brewing for the opening match of Men’s Rugby Varsity 2019. Both Kent and Christ Church had supplied a vast number of supporters, who were sure to feed the intense rivalry that makes Varsity so special. However, the ref was clearly keen to build this suspense as he delayed kick off by nearly half an hour, due to his car breaking down on the way to the game!

The game finally kicked off with early Christ Church pressure, followed by a kicking dual which allowed Kent to turn over possession. Hector Mendoza and Romaine Duchenne capitalised on the broken field taking the play towards the Christ Church line. A series of phases confidently retained by Kent allowed Jack Turner to score to the right of the posts and take a 5 point lead.

Some physical carries from Turner put Kent on the front foot again, manipulating the Christ Church defence and creating a series of overlaps which saw classy full back Romaine Duchenne step his way through the Christ Church defence to dot down.

A period of impressive defence from Kent set down a psychological marker, Christ Church would not pass through. When Kent managed to turn the ball over they retained the ball through the forwards, creating another overlap to exploit, allowing Matt Brady to breeze over in the corner.

From a steady scrum, the backs used the platform to run their lines at Christ Church. Paul Jablonski cut straight through and with good patience again shown by this Kent side, they built phases and exploited the space out wide with Ryan Martin scoring to the left.

With Christ Church losing faith, Turner again bust through some weak tackles up the middle of the pitch. Fantastic hands again saw Adam Tallack score on the left.

The second half kicked off with the same intensity. However, Christ Church’s team talk must’ve been effective as defence held at half way for long periods. Finally Kent broke the deadlock, with good recognition of space from Ed Quare and Hector Mendoza, Mendoza finished the final try on the right.

Passion and vigour from both sides was incredible throughout the game and unfortunately this ended in tears with an injury to prop Stellios West, who played with fantastic heart, seeing the game end early. Well played to both sides and a big HUSS to Kent 3s.

As the 3s were on the way to a big win, the twos kicked off their Varsity under the afternoon Parkwood sunshine. This game started with ferocious intensity and big hits were flying in all over the Kent half. However, Kent held firm and began to find joy on the blindside. Strong carries from Isaiah Horner, Giacomo Saunders and Uyi Osagie took Kent upfield. With Kent maintaining possession Isaiah was able to power over the try line, only for the ball to be held up. Giving Kent an attacking scrum on the left. Harry Case saw his opportunity and took it, picking from Number Eight to score on the left. This would be the beginning of a dominant afternoon from the home side.

Soon after, Kent gained field position once more on the far right and from an attacking lineout Case again took the heat to the opposition. Angus Calder, standing in at fly half for the day, dictated the phases excellently, giving big Uyi Osagi the opportunity to use his weight and crash over in the corner.

Two tries up, an on form Kent backline were capitalising fantastically on the work of a strong forward pack. Great hands from Calder, Pete Wampamba and a fantastic finish from Cam SF put Kent in for another try.

With the scoreboard strongly favouring Kent, Christ Church admirably did their best to stay in the game, but ultimately Kent’s superior skill would be too much. Another attacking scrum on the left was all Lewis Edwards needed as he bust through two tackles to score underneath the right hand post. Strong play from the inside centre.

Angus Calder, having a good game away from his usual position of full back, showed his turn of pace to exploit the spaces in the tiring Christ Church backline. Channeling his inner Sonny Bill Williams, Calder offloaded to his outside centre, Wampamba, who scored down the left.

However the momentum of the game waned in the second half with a long break following an injury and two changes of pitch but Wampamba and Uyi did their best to increase the pace. Finally, after some sustained pressure, Horner bundled over on the right.

Again, all momentum was lost as the game was reduced to scraps and the typical rivalry between the teams heated up. However, the game finished on a high note for Kent, as Max Stuttard’s strong carry set the platform for a well deserved try from scrum half Elliot Kay.

A ruthless performance from Kent’s 2nd team gives Kent rugby two wins out of two in the rugby Varsity, setting the bar high for the 1st team on Wednesday night. An excellent team performance, which displayed Kent’s attacking flair at its finest.

"The first team had a more pressure fueled match to win."

Rugby 1s Varsity

By Megan Warwick

The first team match was a more high-pressure match, due to UKC having been beaten by CCCU last year. The 3rd team was commented as 'an easy win' from their captain Ben Stone, due to the team being in a league below. Similar with the 2nd team. But the 1st team had the added pressure of the final match of Varsity. If the game was lost, then UKC's Varsity campaign would end on low spirits.

Luckily for UKC, they smashed it out of the park, with a 17-10 win. The game started strong on both sides, with both teams having equal ball possession. Yet, as the game continued, UKC managed to maintain possession for longer, but still struggled to penetrate CCCU's defence.

Finally the deadlock was broken by a penalty taken from Alex Meads, who had missed earlier in the game. He would not squander another opportunity. 3-0 to UKC. The crowd on UKC's side cheered with victory, with some harsh chants being screamed on both sides.

Immediately after half time, CCCU got a penalty and fly half Alex Miller slotted it through the posts. The score was 3-3. However, this only seemed to rile the UKC 1st team up, as they immediately took the game back to the opposition. With CCCU tiring, the UKC forwards found some joy through the middle of the pitch and man of the match Harry Sams bundled over for five points. CCCU had started really physically but began to drop off by this point against a far more mobile opposition.

The second try came soon after the second, as Meads took advantage of an over eager CCCU defensive set to dummy and go off of set piece ball and score to the right of the posts. This gave the boys and the UKC faithful some breathing space.

UKC had to hang on tight in the final twenty. Alex Meads went off with a shoulder injury and Kent did not have a natural replacement fly-half, which let the opposition back in the game. A lack of structure and some poor defensive discipline allowed CCCU a consolation try at the death.

Still, UKC were unstoppable and the game ended at 17-10. The relief could be felt all around, UKC had regained Varsity rugby bragging rights!

Team Kent smashed it yet again.