Hartpury set out their credentials as BUCS Rugby National League’s top side as they earned a statement 27-15 victory over Exeter in round 9.
At the start of the day, this was a clash between the league’s top two sides. Hartpury occupied the top spot sitting on 34 points, with Exeter hot on their tails just four points behind.
This bonus-point victory saw the Gloucestershire side maintain their pole position, with Exeter slipping down to third after Edinburgh picked up a maximum of five points away at Cardiff Met.
Hartpury’s impressive form continues
Despite sitting at the top of the league, there would have been a few nerves in and around the Hartpury dressing room ahead of this fixture.
The side would have remembered clearly what happened the last time they faced Exeter. A shock 39-19 defeat is Hartpury’s only of the season, which saw Exeter travel back to Devon with a maximum five points.
Therefore, it would not have been out of the question for Hartpury to be ousted at the top of the league if the outcome was the same as it was in early November.
The importance of the bonus-point victory that ensued is unquantifiable. It opened up a nine-point gap between Hartpury and Exeter, with the former recording their eighth win in nine BUCS Rugby National League games this season.
With just one game remaining, Exeter in third cannot now haul back the nine-point deficit to Hartpury. This holds great importance, as it means they now progress straight to the semi-finals in the BUCS Rugby National Championships playoffs.
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Edinburgh show their strength
Hartpury’s position at the top of the BUCS Rugby National League is not confirmed, with Edinburgh replacing Exeter in second.
The Scottish side made the gruelling trip to the Welsh capital level on points with Exeter, aware that a win would most likely see them move up into second, and take the initiative in the race for second place.
Finising second holds a great deal of importance in BUCS Rugby National League, as the top two do not contest the quarter-finals of the BUCS Rugby National Championships. The winner of these championships are the BUCS Rugby Champions, with the league determining nothing but the fixtures for this.
Edinburgh edged a tight first-half 10-5, with Cardiff Met equalising seven minutes after the restart through a wondeful individual try courtesy of Tilly Smale.
A hat-trick try for Paulina Toresater saw the Scots edge ahead once again, before Met responded with a converted try to gain the lead once again. However, Edinburgh were able to come back once again, with a try in the dying minutes securing a bonus-point win.
They are now five points clear of Exeter in third, with the two teams facing off on Wednesday 15th February. Anything less than a bonus-point win for Exeter by more than seven points would see the Scots secure the all important second-place.
Loughborough pile on Durham’s BUCS Rugby National League misery
In the other game of round 9, bottom side Durham travelled to second-bottom Loughborough in search of their first points of the season.
However, this was not meant to be as Loughborough raced to a 47-26 victory, marking their third win of the season with a bonus-point.
Durham are winless, pointless, and bonus-point-less from their nine BUCS Rugby National League games this season, with their place in the promotion/relegation play-off confirmed as they can make up the 18 point deficit to Loughborough.
However, there is one positive for the side from the north-east, as their 26-point haul is their highest of the season.
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