Birmingham 1st XV vs Durham 2nd XV
After a strong second half performance against Nottingham Trent the week before, Durham 2nd team were hoping to use that momentum to help get past Birmingham University. This proved to be the case as Durham dominated the first ten minutes in a high quality tussle with Paddy Mcduell finishing off a well worked try to break the deadlock: George Jones and Tristan Rawcliffe sliced through the middle of Birmingham’s midfield to put Mcduell into space and race for the try-line.
What followed was a battle of territory as Birmingham started to find their feet, after initially being blown away by Durham’s quick tempo. A well taken penalty and a try before the break gave Birmingham the lead, as Durham failed to convert their early dominance into points. Both teams were playing great rugby, as they looked to move the ball wide and take opponents on. As the first half came to a close, it was Birmingham who just had their noses ahead with a 13- 7 lead. It was still all to play for in the second half.
The second half was played with much of the same quality, with both sets of forwards working tirelessly to try and break down the oncoming defence. However the game was largely played too far from the goal line so any half break couldn’t come to any points being scored. A penalty from Jones kicked started Durham’s response and they dug deep to overcome a stubborn Birmingham defence.
As the minutes went by, the game started to open up more, with Rawcliffe and Waddington counter attacking effectively to put Durham onto the front foot. Sustained pressure finally lead to the Durham’s second try of the day as the forward pack showed their strength by rumbling over a driving maul from ten metres out. With ten minutes to play it was the perfect time for the away side to regain the lead, as Birmingham looked as if they were running out of options.
The killer blow came moments after, as Durham found themselves in the opposition 22 once again. Tidy work from the forwards allowed a gap to open up for replacement scrum half Takenaka to snipe through, offloading to a rampaging Beese to dive under the posts. With the clock running down quickly, there was little time for Birmingham to reply, especially as they needed two scores. Credit to the home side however, as they refused to give up and scored a memorable length of the pitch try, with neat offloads and strong ball carrying. The final score ended 20-24 to Durham, a fantastic result especially considering what a difficult place Birmingham is to go.