The University of Sheffield came out 26-25 winners in the annual Varsity Rugby Union Men’s 1s match against Sheffield Hallam in the final event of the day at Hallam Sports Park.
Uni of came into this match as significant favourites considering they have won their last two BUCS encounters against Hallam, with the most recent resulting in a very comprehensive 52-3 win.
The Black and Golds also came out victorious in this event at Varsity last year, as they dramatically came back from 12-0 down to eventually win 16-12.
Alex Chietan and Josh Wisbey combined well in the opening few minutes for Uni of as they looked to make a fast start to proceedings. However, it was Hallam who opened the scoring as Tom Farrell converted an early penalty.
Uni responded with a try in the 7th minute before Will Hodgson converted to put his side 7-3 ahead after a shaky start.
Hodgson had the opportunity to extend his side’s lead in the 13th minute but this time failed to convert a penalty, much to the delight of the Hallam spectators on the sidelines.
Despite their bright start, Hallam struggled to deal with Uni of’s quality throughout the first half and Sean Casey scored Uni’s second try of the match in the 20th minute before Hodgson converted to extend their lead to 14-3.
It looked like Hallam’s Louis Taylor was going to reduce the deficit when he did brilliantly to run half the length of the pitch before being denied by some superb defending. However, Uni of could not prevent Jordan Hamilton from eventually scoring a try to close the gap to 14-8.
Uni of were able to quickly extend their lead once again to 19-8, but Hallam rallied before half-time and should have reduced the deficit but Farrell’s penalty hit the left-hand post.
Hallam were unable to carry their momentum from the end of the first-half into the start of the second, and Fergus Wood scored a well-worked try for Black and Golds less than 10 minutes after the restart. Hodgson soon converted to extend their side’s lead to 26-8.
It was a rather uneventful second-half overall, but the emotions of both players did boil over with around 70 minutes played following a strong challenge on Uni’s Wood which resulted in a scuffle between a number of players.
Remarkably, Hallam managed to set up a grandstand finish courtesy of late tries from Lewis Bloor and Hazed Richards as they reduced the deficit to 26-20.
In the last few seconds of the game, Hallam’s Taylor and Tom Hart combined well before Hart scored a dramatic late try to present them with the opportunity to steal the victory away from their near neighbours.
However, Adrien Parry’s conversion went wide meaning that Uni of managed to claim a vital 26-25 victory despite a late scare.
Photo credit: Suzie Cameron