The return to BUCS in the new year saw Exeter make the trip up to Loughborough in Round 12 of the league. With the Loughborough supporters in full force, the visitors knew they had to focus on their strengths.
As the whistle blew, Exeter got under the ball, but pressure from the home side saw the ball be put into touch giving Loughborough the line out. The increased pressure on the visitors equated to penalties against them, and Loughborough put the first points on the board with a penalty kick. Exeter saw a chance to retaliate and ran with it, with a penalty inside the Loughborough ’22, Will Smears took the pick and go and with a reach for the line, it was Joe Bailey who went over for the try. Luca Mignot struck well off the tee, giving them the slim lead of 3-7, fifteen minutes into the clash. As play resumed, the opposition were eager to respond but an interception from Seb Driscoll, interrupted this as he took the ball down the wing for the try. With the conversion successful, Exeter added another seven points to the scoreboard. As the tension grew, Loughborough were presented with a red card due to a dangerous tackle, giving Exeter an extra player advantage. However, Loughborough powered through and took advantage of the penalty as they struck over the line. With the conversion successful, the score stood at 10-14 as the half time whistle blew.
HALF TIME SCORE: LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY 10-14 EXETER UNIVERSITY
The Exeter side returned to the field with fire in their belly, but an early knock-on gave Loughborough the scrum just outside of their ’22. Repeated infringements saw the home side take the points with the penalty kick. With the score gap narrowing, Exeter needed to produce some of their magic to extend their lead. A reversed penalty, inside of Loughborough territory, gave Exeter the opportunity to form their maul, as hooker Louis Gulley went over for the try. The conversion was missed meaning the score stood at 13-19, but Exeter weren’t quite finished yet. A grab from the speedy Benjy Joseland took him down the wing as he preserved through the opposition’s defence for the try. The extended lead of 13-24 gave Exeter a slight sigh of relief but the pressure was still on. An infringement for Loughborough gave Ben Coen the penalty kick, which took the score to 13-27 with only 10 minutes to go. With the stakes high, Loughborough weren’t ready to give up just yet as the side closed in on Exeter and went over for the maul try. The last play of the game gave Exeter the scrum and Ben Coen kicked it out the field for full time.
FULL TIME SCORE: LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY 20-27 EXETER UNIVERSITY
An intense return of Rugby for the Exeter side but they delivered, away from home soil. Exeter still sit at the top of the league, but focus on their next fixture against Swansea at home for Round 13 of the clash.