Women's 1st XV (BUCS 1)
Wed 14 Feb 2024  ·  BUCS Women's National League
Loughborough University Women
Exeter University RFC
Women's 1st XV (BUCS 1)
Tries: T Westwood, K Smith, A SkeatesConversions: T Westwood (2)Yellow Carded: A Keyte
Match Report: Loughborough University 31-19 Exeter University

Match Report: Loughborough University 31-19 Exeter University

EURFC Media15 Feb - 14:30
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Loughborough get the win at Epinal way despite a valiant second-half performance from Exeter.

It was a windy evening under the floodlights at Epinal Way, Exeter had made the long journey up to face a Loughborough side hot off a victory against league leaders Hartpury.

The events of the opening ten minutes would characterise the rest of the first half as Loughborough launched an early attacking onslaught inside the Exeter half. Exeter barely touched the ball as Loughborough attempted to get the first score.

However, the Exeter defence was impeccable with massive tackles and double shots coming from every Exeter player out on the pitch who showed real grit and determination. The physicality displayed throughout the whole game was brutal, to say the least, and really shone a light on the standards this league has.

Loughborough kept trying to get the score but were held up twice and knocked it on at the line once as well, showing just how hard Exeter were fighting. Eventually, however, the pressure became too much at the ten-minute mark, and the hosts got their try as the loosehead prop smashed through.

To the host's credit, they starved the girls in green and white of any possession in the opening half meaning the Exeter attack could not get going. However, the defensive efforts continued by Exeter and it can not be understated the size of some of the shots coming in.

Loughborough had their next try ten minutes from half-time which highlights the excellent work this Exeter side were doing despite not having much possession. Their try came from a driving maul five metres out which looked to be collapsed. However, the hooker dug the ball from the base and darted over at the blindside and got the try.

They had one more try before the halftime whistle. They managed to spread to an edge to the number 8 who found a soft shoulder, got the handoff and used their pace to run it in.


The game got back underway and a much better second-half performance was needed from the Devon side.

Notable mention of an early substitution in the second half as Sarah Murphy came off the bench to make her BUCS National League debut and she put in a stellar performance whilst on the pitch.

Exeter would start the half much better with an early try. From a scrum in the middle of the park, Anna Richardson broke from the base and gave us good field position inside the 22’. Sustained possession was maintained for an extended amount of phases which had been lacking in the first half. After keeping it tight for so long eventually, Westwood managed to dive over and convert it herself

Unfortunately, the hosts responded quickly with another try of their own. The number 8 was delivered a flat ball and she found a gap in a dog-legged defensive line and broke through. The covering defence did well to bring her down but a couple of offloads meant the winger could finish off in the corner.

Things didn’t improve much as in the next phase of play Exeter were shown a yellow card and would be down to 14 players for ten minutes due to a high tackle.

With the player advantage, Loughborough capitalised. From the penalty for the high tackle, they put it to the corner and from the lineout they worked the ball well in the field until eventually, they went in under the posts.

The Exeter fight is a characteristic of this squad and was really on display last night. From the kick-off, Exeter kept possession right inside the opposition's red zone and maintained it for several phases. Eventually, a hard running line from Preece gave quick ball and Dadds delivered a short pass to Smith who broke over the line for a try which Westwood converted.

It was the closing minutes of the game and despite various injuries, the yellow card and players playing out of position, Exeter still felt like they were in the game and were giving it all and it showed. Exeter were awarded a penalty 5 metres out right underneath the Loughborough posts. They decided to take the quick tap and went with the pick-and-go’s until Skeates crashed over.

Unfortunately, that would be the last of the game as despite a sporadic final few phases eventually the hosts kicked the ball off the field and got the win.


It was a game with a physicality off the scale but despite that and the long journey this Exeter side showed a real determination in their performance. The result was unfortunate but they will rebuild now with a week’s break and look ahead to Cardiff away.

Match details

Match date

Wed 14 Feb 2024




BUCS Women's National League

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Loughborough University Women
Exeter University RFC 1st XV Women (BUCS 1)
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