The Rugby 1st XV journeyed to Loughborough for their first game back after the winter break and were looking to continue their good form from before Christmas into the new year.
They started brightly as a penalty was kicked to touch and a clean lineout gave fly half Sunni Jardine time to put Paul Webb through a gap in the defense to score under the posts. The conversion was successful, making the score 7-0 early on. A few minutes later more pressure and another penalty kicked to the corner allowed the UoB forwards to power over from a rolling maul, with George Hartson touching down. The Lions kept up their good start as following a scrum in midfield, no.8 Will Onslow carried well to break the line and offloaded to Jardine, who in turn offloaded to a supporting Gruff Roberts to finish a flowing move. The conversion was added making the score 19-0.
Momentum in the game swung after the away side’s early domination, as ill-discipline and some poor defense allowed Loughborough to build attacking pressure and eventually score in the corner, making it 19-5. Further errors from Birmingham gave Loughborough the opportunity to put the ball in the corner and set up a driving maul. The hosts capitalised on this and further narrowed the score to 19-10. When the Lions eventually got their hands back on the ball and built some phases, another penalty was awarded in their favour, and they again targeted the corner. The forwards set up an accurate driving maul to push over the line through Gregor Lockhart-Smith and Tighe Maxwell-Whiteley added the conversion, with the score standing at 26-10 at the half.
More ill-discipline from Birmingham allowed another penalty to be put in the corner and Loughborough scored a driving lineout try. The conversion was added making the score 26-17. UoB again responded well and a flowing back line move allowed Jardine to make a half break and offload to winger Ali Wealthall who was stopped just short of the line. Quick thinking from scrum-half Jacob Proctor started off a great rugby move and the Loughborough were powerless as the score was pushed to 33-17.
The hosts returned with a vegeance as UoB had another man sent to the sin bin. Despite some resolute try line defense, Loughborough managed to score two pick-and-go tries through their forwards, narrowing the score to 33-31 and setting up a nervy finish. The game took another turn when a Loughborough knock on in midfield, and some strong carries from Will Onslow and Rich Galloway, set up a great platform for Birmingham to attack. Sunni Jardine used this advantage to dance around a couple of defenders and float a pass over the top to winger Eddie Jenkinson who finished in the corner.
The score stood at 38-31 with a few minutes left, and Loughborough frantically increased their pressure. However, good covering defense and then counter rucking gave the Lions the opportunity to kick the ball to touch and end the contest. All in all it was a hugely successful day as five league points were picked up with a final score of 38-31 and Birmingham’s winning run was extended to 4 games.
Follow the Rugby Club on Twitter to see how their season goes!