Lions win comfortably to earn back the Gallowglass Shield in this year’s Brum Varsity against the Medics.
A big crowd gathered around Bournbrook with the weather calm after lots of rain in the days leading up to the game. The Birmingham Varsity between the Lions (1st Team) and the Medics was built to be one of the biggest matches in the academic season for both of these sides. The Lions came in having won 4 out of their last 5 in their BUCS North 1A league whilst the Medics had won all 7 of their fixtures in their NAMS League (National Association of Medical Schools). However, both sides having not played since early December would have to rely on the training leading up to the Varsity for their preparations.
The match started with a flurry and after 6 minutes Craig Bonnar scored a try after a series of quick phases moving the ball from one side to another. James Chaumeton kicked the difficult conversion to give the Lions an early 7-0 lead.
The Medics seemed to be shell shocked from the opening try and kicked away possession. This would prove costly, as the Lions would strike again after a quarter of the game had elapsed. Luc Jeannot picked a beautiful line from James Chaumeton, carving up the Medics defense. With the conversion from Chaumeton, the score of 14-0 started to look worrying for the Medics.
The Medics started to capitalise on the ill discipline from the Lions with Barnaby Haward sent to the sin-bin for repeated
infringements by the University’s 1st Team. Fly-half Steffan Griffin kicked the Medics to the 5 meter line and the forward pack then set up a driving maul. However, the Medics only progressed side-ways within their carries and eventually the Lions came away still having not conceded any points so far during the match.
Having failed to clinically convert their best chance in the match, fractures in the Medics were becoming more apparent, with captain Griffin miss kicking the ball, pilling more pressure on the Medics. The Lions were able to capitalise on the pressure after lovely running from Lions winger Rich Galloway and the move ended with a lineout on the Medics 5 meter line. Jared Harvey stole the ball in the lineout and after going one width of the pitch, the Lions came back and Callum Grant who threw the ball into the lineout, scored after some lovely passing by the back line. Chaumeton kicked a wide conversion brilliantly with the score now 21-0 with just 5 minutes left to half time.
The opening 20 minutes of the second half were uneventful with the Medics retaining possession between their 22 and the Lions 10 meter line but rarely putting together passages with 5 phases plus.
However, with 15 minutes left to go the Lions scored their 4th try, Craig Bonnar grabbing his second of the game after some lovely passing along the back line. Bonnar couldn’t convert his own try and the score now stood as 26-0.
The crowd supporting the Medics went into song to try and encourage their lads on and it would pay dividence. The Lions were still aggressive in the tackling and defensive duties they had, as it was a characteristic towards Christmas. With 5 minutes left to play though, Chaz Hudson, the Chairman of the Medics rugby side, grabbed a consolation try for the Medics after some loose play from the Lions. Steffan Griffin converted the try and the game finished 26-7. For the Medics there is a lot to work on for their next fixture against Southampton Medical school in the Quarter-Final of their NAMS campaign.
The Lions have to improve with their discipline as they gave away close to 20 penalties but a few of them were 50/50 calls from referee Dave Hampton. The Lions will be disappointed to concede late. Potentially they could have been more clinical but it is a big boost for the Lions with the difficult trip up to Newcastle University for their next BUCS fixture on 25th January. Will Onslow deservedly got the Man of the Match, with an outstanding carrying game and athletic work rate around the park.
All in all, a great spectacle for the University and the record of victories for both sides has now evened out to 2 a piece. Therefore, the development of both of these teams will be crucial come the next varsity in January 2018.