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Loughborough Students Rugby suffer narrowest of defeats at Twickenham

On a cold March evening Loughborough Students Rugby suffered an agonising two point defeat at the hands of the University of Exeter in the BUCS Rugby Union Final.

Aiming to bounce back from a closing stages defeat at Twickenham twelve months ago, the Loughborough University side acquitted themselves superbly, soaking up long spells of Exeter pressure without ever looking out of the game.

However despite taking the lead with just five minutes to go the men in purple were unable to hang on, as Exeter snatched a drop goal in the dying moments to seal a 21-19 victory.

The University of Exeter got proceedings underway as they kicked towards the North Stand, and after a tense first five minutes opened the scoring with a well worked try. Surprisingly their number 10 missed the easiest of conversions, leaving the score at 5-0.

With play toing and froing Loughborough won a penalty just outside the 22, which number 12 Dan Watt duly scored. However just minutes later Exeter exposed the Loughborough defence once more to score their second try of the game, which they this time converted to take the score to 15-3.

George Davis’ introduction in place of Joe Cave gave the team in purple some increased vigour in defence and soon after they won another penalty that Watt dispatched. As the clocked ticked down towards half-time Loughborough finally had their first try after some sustained pressure inside the opposition 22. It was number 14 Brendon Mandivenga who finally took the ball across the line and Watt converted to make it 15-13, but a late Exeter penalty left the score at 18-13 at half-time.

Ciaran Beattie’s men came flying out of the blocks in the second half to win an early penalty, and it was that man Dan Watt who again converted a long range kick to take his tally to four from four.

The momentum looked to have swung in Loughborough’s favour, as after a flurry of half-time substitutions they looked full of running. They did had to have their whits about them in order to save a try inches from the line though.

There was real cause for concern though when just over 10 minutes into the second half try scorer Brendon Mandivenga was stretchered off with what looked like a head injury. Shortly after the restart Loughborough were let off the hook once more as Exeter missed another straight forward penalty, leaving the score finely balanced at 18-16.

Even with five minutes to go there was further drama to be had, as Loughborough were awarded a penalty just inside the Exeter half. After sustaining a long period of pressure, last year’s runners up had a chance to take the lead, with Dan Watt stepping up to take the kick. True to form, Watt made it five from five to send the travelling Loughborough fans into raptures.

However a night of twists and turns wasn’t over, as after more heavy pressure Exeter put a drop goal between the Loughborough posts to flip the score in their favour and clinch the match 21-19.

Having gone unbeaten since last year’s final defeat at the hands of Leeds Beckett the Loughborough University team were understandably gutted with the outcome, especially having suffered a similar fate twelve months ago.

Post-match, BUCS 1s Head Coach Ciaran Beattie commented:

“It’s a tough pill to swallow but we were second best on the night. We gave a good account of ourselves defensively but we didn’t get our attacking shape going. As I said in the build up to this game, this is a really strong Exeter team and we’ve defended for 40 minutes in our own half and only lost the game by two points. This shows what a special team we have.”

Maybe it’ll be third time lucky next year?

“Absolutely; the planning starts tomorrow.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 16/45

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts  please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named the best in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey. It was also named University of the Year in the In the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015 and Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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