Leeds Metropolitan University yet again stopped Loughborough at the last hurdle, by beating the East-Midlands side 12-29 in the BUCS Championship final. Student rugby league’s top two teams took each other on at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, with the game being broadcast live on Premier Sports.
It was clear to see that playing on their home ground gave Leeds the early advantage, within the first fifteen minutes early pressure from Leeds put them 10-0 up against the Loughborough team.
Despite Leeds crossing the line twice early on, the Loughborough defence kept them in touch as some strong tackling forced errors from the Met attack. Loughborough edged themselves back into the match when Anthony Squires scored an opportunist try diving on a kick through.
Yet the reigning champions came straight back at the visiting side, resulting in a further two points from a penalty kick. Leeds Met could have gone even further in the lead just before the break, however some last ditch tackling in the corner ensured the decision went to the video referee who disallowed it.
Leeds were fully aware that they were not home and dry at half time when only four points separated the two sides going into half time.
The Loughborough team emerged from the dressing room intent on creating 20 minutes of hell for their opponents. Big hits and crashing runs dominated the start, with props Dan Ljazouli and Elliot Hurst crashing through their opposite numbers time and time again and this was rewarded with a further two scores for Loughborough.
Chris Barrett finished off a fine move in the corner, despite the announcer claiming winger Rich Hawley had scored before Anthony Squires yet again touched town, adding to his growing reputation.
And yet the consequences for the heavy hits were beginning to be felt as both centre Lloyd Thomas and second Row Chris Barrett were both already carrying shoulder injuries came off the field.
Leeds Met finally regained their composure with twenty minutes to go, scoring a further two tries, one from ex-Loughborough hooker Nathan Walmsey. The damage could have been a lot worse if it was not from the heroics of Anthony Squires who chased down two break away runs by Leeds players, proving him to be one of student rugby league’s quickest players.
A further drop goal at the death by the champions sealed the game, 29-12 and ensured Leeds Met maintained their reign as BUCS champions.
It was a disappointing end for the Loughborough side, with many of the senior players graduating this year, notably captain Edward Mark Wilson who was a leading influence throughout the season.
Loughborough did however excel themselves with seven of the team only playing their first bit of rugby league this year. The team hosts an array of first year students, and with the return of several senior players from placement, it creates an exciting prospect for next year.