The BUCS 1s take another triumphant step forward on their road to Twickenham after their quarter-final clash with Cardiff Met saw them dominate once again, maintaining their unbeaten streak.
The late kick-off plunged the game into wintery conditions. The drizzle changed to inky rain-filled skies and burly winds arrived almost precisely on the whistle blow. The visiting Welsh side kicked us off to start and took early possession. Loughborough’s sluggish pace off the mark left a line clear for Cardiff who managed to find the whitewash ten minutes into the game. Their conversion went wide but they had put points on the board nevertheless, score 0-5. Loughborough struggled to turn up the heat and it was not until a yellow card for Cardiff, dropping them down to 14 men, that they managed to find their rhythm and get their heads into the game. A Loughborough try followed in the form of a rolling maul over the line. Dan Watt sent the conversion wide taking the score to 5-5.
Moments later Cardiff were awarded a penalty, it was good, soaring square through the uprights and took the score to 5-8. Loughborough gained a penalty in quick succession and Dan Watt wasted no time in nudging it through and bringing score back to a tie, 8-8.
Left winger Brandon Mandivenga had a good run down the line but was stopped just outside the twenty-two yard line. Charged, the home side pushed their attacking line hard resulting in another rolling maul over the line. Watt’s conversion unfortunately veered wildly wide and shot past the right post. Without the extra points the scoreboard stood 13-8.
Play was still adorned by falling rain and swaddling winds as the attacking lines of both teams locked horns. A line out just outside Cardiff’s twenty-two gave Watt an opportunity to break the Cardiff line and find the whitewash. He converted his own try taking Loughborough’s lead to 20-8.
Cardiff tried to reply and their attack briefly saw them convincingly hold possession over the ball as they bullishly found themselves deep in Loughborough’s half. Mandivenga, however, put a swift stop to any challenge and play was taken back up to the halfway line. Cardiff made another desperate attempt to add to the scoreboard but to no avail, the score still stood 20-8 at halftime.
Dan Watt kicked off the second half and after a solid attack towards the line, Loughborough sent in a huge scrum led by replacement props Ben Christie and Nathan Higgins. Watt converted successfully and took the tally to 27-8.
Cardiff tried to push back but the likes of Cam Dobinson whose huge run down the line and neat, controlled pass to Mandivenga, saw their chances of turning the game around dwindle. The try, with a no good conversion, took the score to 32-8. Dobinson wasted no time in putting pressure back on Cardiff and immediately earned a try of his own. With Watt’s conversion, the home side strode further ahead, their fifth try setting the score to 39-8. Sam Fisher and Joe Cave led the pack over the line once again after another Loughborough penalty that gained them a further try. Watt converted beautifully taking the score to 46-8.
Cardiff, outplayed but commendably still full of zeal, managed to intercept a Loughborough pass and ran it across the line post-haste. With a successful conversion they added a few but it was a bit too late in the day to make an impact on Loughborough’s sizeable lead, 46-15.
Loughborough on the other hand were still playing with high tempo, blind to the scoreboard, and still driven to gain try after try. The skill and momentum displayed delighted the home crowds with yet another fantastic game. Dan Watt cemented his stellar performance by finding another clear, dotting the ball over the line and converting yet another one of his own tries to take the final score to an outstanding 53-15.
This result sees another brick added on the road to the Championship final as the 2nd XV are only one game away. They host Hartpury College RFC in the semi-finals next week.
Coach Ciaran Beattie gave comment saying: “tonight was just exceptional. We did have a fifteen minute blip but I’m really pleased with everyone.”
He wasn’t the only coach delighted with the win against Cardiff, George Chuter said: “it was a really good performance and probably one of our better ones of the season. To do that in a knock-out game is credit to the lads. A fantastic eighty minute performance.”