By Liz Tyler
The atmosphere was electric as the teams came out of the tunnel and through the pyrotechnics onto the field with the support of a 3,500 strong crowd. After the anthems had resounded around the ground the game got underway.
Loughborough made the first move, attacking UQ’s line until the gained a penalty within the reach of kicking scrum-half Tom James’ boot. James signalled to the posts but sent his kick just shy of the mark, keeping the scores at zero.
Loughborough’s Jack Pons, who would end up being awarded the Man of the Match at the close of the game, made a huge run for the hosts, slipping past UQ’s defence, just seconds later. He chipped the ball through for Yiannis Loizias to collect but UQ’s Brandon Murray got a hand to the ball first and denied Loughborough a score for the moment. Loughborough would stay dominant though and after a strong scrum from the home side, Isaac Miller barrelled over the line to score. James added the conversion to give the Students a 7-0 lead.
Shortly after Loughborough’s first score, UQ went down to 14 men as Nathan Lennan was sent to the sin bin. The home side pushed on against a reduced defensive line and scored again not long after. Rhys Davies dotted down for the first of his two tries of the evening, James’ conversion went just wide of the posts but Loughborough stretched their lead to 12-0.
Just a minute later Loughborough would gain a penalty at the scrum and James signalled to the posts once more. His kick split the uprights, sending the score to 15-0.
UQ began an attack of their own with Harry Wathen breaking Loughborough’s line and making some considerable ground before he was tackled. But the away side would make little head way in the Loughborough defence before going down to 13 men as Thomas Morgan was also sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes. Despite Lennan returning to the pitch just seconds later the away side still struggled to contain Loughborough’s attack. The home side thought they had scored after a huge run from Jack Pons set Yiannis Loizias up with no one in front of him but the referee deemed the offload to have been forward and brought the game back. This merely paused Loughborough’s efforts as a strong attacking line out set Rhys Davies up to collect his second of the night. James couldn’t convert but the score moved to 20-0 where it would stay going into the half time break.
The teams came back from the break to the cheers of the crowd and a chant of “Loughborough Walk On Water” resounded around the Stadium as the game restarted. It was the University of Queensland that would make the first headway in the second half. They got close to Loughborough’s line and, after Loughborough’s Henry Spencer was shown a yellow card, found a gap in the Students’ defence to score. Brandon Murray converted the try to bring the score to 20-7.
The home side would return to their attacking ways after that and after a strong line out just outside the UQ 22 would score. The ball was quickly passed out of the line out and to centre Jack Wardle who slipped through the UQ line and dotted down. James added the extras to bring the deficit back up to 20 points.
The home side were on the attack again straight away and a strong run from Matt Macpherson saw James through the UQ line to score. He converted his own try to bring the score to 34-7.
UQ had a lot of possession in the following few minutes but Loughborough’s defence stayed strong and they eventually got the ball back in their hands. Loughborough would make some good ground before George De Cothi broke the UQ line and spotted Brendon Mandivenga with space on the wing. De Cothi chipped through to his winger who had the legs to get to the ball before his UQ counterpart and grounded the ball to score. Replacement kicker Dan Watt added the conversion to bring the score to 41-7.
The final score of the game was to be Loughborough’s and was to go to Ryan Redman. Redman completed a huge solo run from within his side’s own half and got the ball safely over the line to finish the scoring. Watt converted the try to end the night, the score 48-7.
Director of Rugby Dave Morris said the occasion was a great thing for the rugby club and something he was proud to be a part of:
It was a really, really special night. First of all thanks to the University of Queensland, touring is a really special tradition in rugby and we’ve really enjoyed their company over the last day or two. We’ve had the privilege of showing them around the campus and spending a bit of time with them. They’re a cracking group of lads and hopefully they’ll enjoy our hospitality this evening.
It was a fantastic turn out by all the students and it’s a really proud moment and a real privilege for everyone involved with the rugby club to play at such an event. So thank you so much to everyone who helped put this event on, Vice Chancellor Bob was obviously had a vision of playing this game and there’s been so many people who made it into a reality and into such a good event. On behalf of the rugby club we’re really grateful for everyone turning up.
Highlights of the match can be found on media.lsu.co.uk. The National League One team is next in action on Saturday when they are away to Cinderford, updates will be on Twitter @LufbraRugby.