Durham Strike gold again keeping their unbeaten season alive

The BUCS rugby semi final between Durham and Bristol university 1st XV turned out to be a thrilling affair with a nail biting conclusion.

Bristol looked the stronger of the two sides creating pressure with sustained possession and ball retention. With Durham’s defence looking stretched, the Bristol heavy runners smashed into the centres. The pressure finally told for Durham leading to a penalty calming taken by the fly half Ashwin. 3-0 Bristol. Having converted the penalty Bristol again applied the pressure on Durham who had not yet entered their opponent’s half. A loose kick from Ashwin was returned fruitlessly back to them by Durhams full back O’Toole leading to another onslaught of pressure. Excellent phase play led to a Bristol score from an offload for Duguid underneath the posts. 10-0 Bristol.

With the Durham supporters feeling disheartened and the rather louder Bristol supporters ecstatic, again Bristol came at Durham. Quite unlike the first few periods of pressure Bristol next broke away from half way, smart interplay resulting in yet another Bristol score from Guido. An unsuccessful conversion made the score 15-0 Bristol. The Durham pack slowly gained possession with hints of an advantage around the fringes and clearly in the mauls. A small fightback came with a good step and score from Dugarin under the posts. Yet with more Bristol attacks penetrating the Durham defence and a scrum near the right touch line, the Bristol scrum half Franklin broke blind and a missed tackle from Malaney lead to another try for Bristol. 20-7

The first half seemed devastating for Durham with the prospect of a Twickenham final sliding from their grasp. Bristol were firmly in the driving seat.

Durham came out a new team in the second half immediately putting Bristol under pressure with strong carries from Fleming and new insurgence in the back line with the addition of Holmes. This ultimately lead to a penalty which Ward converted. 20-10. Soon afterwards, another penalty pushed Bristol deep into their own half and now the Durham maul was able to fire.The penalty count mounted up and eventually the Bristol line was breached. A missed kick from Ward made the score 20-15.

It was game on with the Bristol supporters having a much less relaxed approach than the first half. Again came the Durham attack through the maul. This time on the opposite touchline, Durham again crossed the line in the dying minutes of regular time. Ward failed to convert a difficult chance, and with the scores level it was on to extra time.

With only ten minutes each way, it was difficult to predict which team would suddenly find form . But it was clear that Durham were to be that team. Tom Shiel grabbed possession back for Durham immediately from the kick off, and within two minutes, they gained another penalty which was taken easily by Ward. Soon after, crucial interplay and excellent hands between Shiel and Holmes led to another Durham try which put them ten points ahead of Bristol. 30-20 Durham.

This inevitably was insurmountable for Bristol with Durham victorious after a gruelling encounter between two excellent teams. Bristol perhaps felt disappointed that they let a strong lead go, but nothing can be taken away from coach Alex Keay’s side who will play UWIC in the final at Twickenham on the 26th of April.

TEAMS:

Durham:

15. T.O’Toole
14.S.Rupar 
13. T.Shiel
12. T.Dugarin
11. D.Haigh
10. M.Ward
9. A.McCulla
1. J.Hallam
2. F.Stonell
3. J.Bayford
4. J.Beaumont
5. G.Sears
6. R.Malaney (Capt)
7. R.Fleming
8. H.Collins
16. J.Balfour
17. J.Binns
18. J.Thomas
19. J.Pattinson
20. J.Mills
21. D.Holmes
22. A.Graham

Bristol:

Simpson
Mortimer
Duguid
Mitchell
Guido
Ashwin
Franklin
Bellamy
Duncan
Purbrook
Wush
Bellinger
Berry
Stevo
Crane

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