The University of Bath men’s XV were cruelly denied victory in the rugby varsity match against Loughborough at the Rec last night (Wednesday) in a contest between two of the powerhouses of university sport.
Joe Atkinson’s converted try four minutes from time was enough to earn the visitors a 17-16 win in a game that the University of Bath team had led for most of the match.
There was better news in the women’s game, where the University of Bath ran out 31-10 winners.
The Varsity 2011 contest was sponsored by IPL, Optimum Nutrition and Surridge Sport.
In front of a crowd of around 1500 colourful fans, the men’s team took an early lead through a first minute Chris Lewis penalty.
Fly half Zac Vinnicombe doubled Bath’s lead with a drop goal 18 minutes into the game.
Ill discipline should have cost the visitors dear, with James Taylor sin binned on 24 minutes followed swiftly by Kristian Cook two minutes later.
Bath continued to dominate both possession and territory but couldn’t capitalise on their superior numbers. Winger Sam Miller went the closest on the half-hour mark but spilled the ball on the try line.
The University of Bath took the initiative after the break with full back Lewis scoring a second penalty to make it 9-0 on 43 minutes,
But Loughborough were quickly back into the game after Taylor offloaded to Rob Conquest, who barged his way over the line for the first try of the game on 47 minutes. George Drake kicked the conversion to make it 9-7.
Drake kicked Loughborough into the lead for the first time six minute later with a straightforward penalty kick just in front of the posts following an infringement that saw scrum half Matt Keyte sin binned.
But Bath were soon back in the lead courtesy of a terrific kick on from winger Freddie Strange. Vinnicombe caught the Loughborough defence flat footed – he was first to the ball and sprinted clear of the defence before gleefully leaping over the line for the try. A Lewis conversion gave the University of Bath a 16-10 lead.
Loughborough thought they were back in the game on 53 minutes when replacement Luke Bowler outpaced the Bath defence and offloaded to Taylor, who grounded the ball. But the play was brought back as the touch judge signalled that Joe Ellyatt’s tackle had forced the Loughborough lock to put a foot in touch en route to the line.
As time appeared to be ebbing away and Bath were in touching distance of victory, replacement Atkinson went over the line four minutes from time to score a last-gasp try – which Drake then converted to edge Loughborough into a 17-16 lead.
There was still time for Vinnicombe to try to win back the game, but his late late drop goal was charged down and Loughborough took the spoils.
Earlier in the evening the University of Bath women’s team handed out a 31-10 defeat to their Loughborough counterparts.
Nic Hoole scored a brace of tries for the hosts, with one each from Katie Mason and Sarah Graham. Sarah Holloway kicked three conversions and a penalty,
Laura Prosser responded with a first half try for Loughborough converted by Danielle Martin, but the visitors couldn’t respond as the University of Bath built on their 14-7 half-time lead.
Leading nutrition brand Optimum Nutrition (ON) is an official partner of The University of Bath student rugby teams. The University of Bath men’s team for the 2011 varsity were sponsored by IPL.