LUCS DESPATCH 2ND PLACE EXETER UNIVERSITY
Exeter University RFC v Luctonians RFC
Saturday 7th September 2023 – Topsham Sports Ground
Match Reporter – Alex Smith
Luctonians maintained their perfect start to the 2023/24 campaign with a 21-33 victory on the road in Devon, as they despatched 2nd place Exeter University on a warm October day, to tighten their early grip on top spot in the National League 2 West division.
The Herefordshire men did not have it all their own way against an always threatening opponent, but throughout the game looked to have too much power and nous for the young students outfit.
It was Exeter who fired the first shot though, after just a minute, having recovered their own kick off and played through a couple of phases, an inside ball to the dangerous Edward Volley saw the centre dance around the cover defence for an easy converted score, with fly half Jack Park adding the extras.
Woken into gear after that start, Lucs began to exert physical dominance at set piece, whilst also stretching the students defence to breaking point and began to pick up penalties as a result. From two of these penalties, both five metres out and fifteen metres in from the right-hand touchline, the Black and Whites opted to scrum and on both occasions, on eight and 24 minutes, pushed the students over the line for number 8 Caleb Montgomery to dot down at the back of the scrum. Louis Silver added both conversions for a 14-7 lead.
Lucs would pass-up a couple more wasted try-scoring opportunities as the half wore on, that would probably have broken the back of the contest, and were then made to pay as the Students would score through the other centre Woody Pugh with the final act of the half, Park converting to tie things up at the break.
Half Time Score
Exeter University RFC 14 v 14 Luctonians RFC
The second half began in similar fashion to how the first half played out, with the visitors largely on top of proceedings, but with Exeter always showing dangerous glimpses. Through this third quarter of the game Lucs would convert this dominance however, and scored three tries in 11 minutes to really take the game away from the hosts.
Ben Link would go over for his ninth score this season, at the back of another dominant driving maul on 45 minutes, before Charlie Grimes, not to be out-done by his try-scoring rival, also went to nine for the season, as he picked up a loose ball on 53 minutes, stepping and racing his way fully 50 metres plus to go over for another. As the visitors then pushed Exeter off their own scrum ball deep in their own 22, the ball was moved to powerful centre Lewis Parkes, and he bashed his way over. Silver converted two of these three scores and by 57 minutes Lucs now lead 14-33.
The University side probably then had their most effective spell of the afternoon, as they pressured the visitors during a decent 10 minute period, in which full back Hugo Ellerby went over for a converted score after a number of phases deep in the opposition 22. Park converting once more for 21-33 with fifteen minutes to go.
But as they have become accustomed to in these first six games, Lucs showed enough composure and smarts to take the sting out of this purple-patch and saw out the last ten minutes or so with relative ease, controlling territory and possession.
Full Time Score
Exeter University RFC 21 v 33 Luctonians RFC
So the Kingsland-based outfit now find themselves in unchartered territory, with nearly a quarter of the season complete. They sit atop National League 2 West with maximum points and a six-point gap over the 2nd placed hosts who they defeated Saturday. Lucs are back at home this coming Saturday as they host bottom side Newport, before a two-week break.
Tomo from the Touchline
Listen HERE on BBC SOUNDS to Tomo speaking, after the final whistle, from the touchline with Trevor Owens in the BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester studio, live on his Saturday show