Women's 1st XV (BUCS 1)
Sat 09 Mar 2024  ·  BUCS Women's National League
Exeter University RFC
Women's 1st XV (BUCS 1)
Tries: A Skeates, A Keyte, A Richardson, N Orchard, N Brennan, C ClarkeConversions: L DaddsYellow Carded: N Orchard, K Smith
Edinburgh University Ladies
Tries: S McCormack, C Bell, S DenholmConversions: L MacRae (2)Yellow Carded: N Flynn
Match Report: Exeter University 32-19 Edinburgh University

Match Report: Exeter University 32-19 Edinburgh University

EURFC Media10 Mar - 16:37
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Exeter secure second in the league in a thrilling encounter at Sandy Park

Saturday. Sandy Park. First-ever BUCS National League and PWR Double-header. The stage was set for a day of rugby like no other. Last time out at Peffermill, the Scots pushed Exeter all the way, and yesterday was no different.

Despite the grandeur of the occasion, we still had the typical conditions of a BUCS game: wet, cold and windy. Exeter kicked us off, and Edinburgh made the first mistake, perhaps with some nerves, with a knock-on on their own 22-metre line.

Like she had never been away, Niamh Orchard broke from the base of the scrum, charging at the defence before linking up with Bond on a switch play, who carried it just short of the try line. With deadly position secured, Exeter reverted back to type with the pick-and-go game before Alessia Skeates eventually got over the line.

Exeter had given the crowd the opening they wanted; however, the visitors would come into the ascendency in response. An Exeter knock-on gave them possession, which they maintained as they worked the ball from side to side. Eventually, they overloaded the short side, and the winger spotted a gap in the defensive line, bursting through. She used her pace and step to go over for the score.

After an opening five minutes of back-to-back tries, the subsequent 20 minutes left a lot to be desired for the fans in the stands. Perhaps it was the occasion getting to Exeter, but whatever the case, their discipline let slip as they allowed Edinburgh to maintain consistent possession after conceding penalty after penalty. Despite the pressure, Exeter’s defence was strong as Edinburgh struggled to find that clinical edge to finish their opportunities.

Eventually, after too many penalties in the red zone, the referee lost her patience with the Exeter side and showed Niamh Orchard a yellow card. With the extra player advantage, Edinburgh finally got their second score as they worked the ball well through the backs out to the winger.

After conceding, Exeter regrouped under the sticks and came back out firing. A chip in behind from Lottie Dadds put the Edinburgh defence on the back foot. However, the winger managed to cover it, but some excellent clear-out work by Kate Smith turned possession back over; Lucy Ward then charged at the line but was held up. Exeter ran it straight back at the defence from the goal-line dropout, determined to get the score they were denied. They stuck to their process, and finally, it was Andie Keyte who dove over.


Exeter had gone into the sheds behind at half-time but came straight back out the blocks. Their attack flowed much more freely than in the first half with some lovely hands and inter-phase play. Eventually, Dadds delivered a short, delayed ball to Richardson on a hard line, and she broke through the attempted tackle for the try, which Dadds brilliantly converted.

Exeter were on fire and had much more strength and determination in their carries leading to gain line success almost every time. A crunching tackle from Bond led to a dropped pass from the Edinburgh side, and Brennan was the quickest to react and dove on the loose ball. Exeter reacted quickly to the turnover in possession, identifying a bunched-up Edinburgh defensive line. Ward pulled it out the back to Dadds, who whipped it wide to Skeates. The prop got away a beautiful one-handed offload to Langford, who threw a stunning over-the-top spin pass to Preece on the wing, who burst up to five metres out. Orchard spotted a gap at the pillar of the ruck with no guard and got over for a try of her own.

Despite the conditions, Exeter’s handling remained crisp, with some wonderous offloads on display. Edinburgh conceded a penalty on the halfway line for hands on the floor but were then marched back ten metres for dissent. Langford kicked to the corner, and the Exeter driving maul was powerful, getting within 5 metres out before the ball came to the ground. Summers whizzed the ball to Dadds, who gave it to Brennan on a short line, who was initially met well in the tackle, but she stayed in the fight, working hard, and broke through to score.

Despite impressive attacking play from the girls in green and white, as ever, the defensive performance was just as solid, with massive double shots coming in across the park. The game began to slip away from the visitors as they conceded a yellow card of their own for a high tackle. Exeter capitalised with a classic from Clarke as the ball came out wide, an outrageous backhand offload from Westwood to Dadds, who delivered the killing pass to Connie, who went in at the corner.

However, Exeter were attempting to see the game out to full-time, but another yellow card for Exeter to Kate Smith for a high tackle wasn’t the intended ending. With the extra player, Edinburgh got one more try before the full-time whistle after a nice break and offload down the wing, but that was to be the game's final play.


With that win, Exeter secure second place in the league, which has been massively deserved thanks to their efforts this season and will look ahead to the knock-outs. It was a fantastic day at Sandy Park, and the occasion was a testament to the program and connections built between our University side and Exeter Chiefs by Poppy Leitch and Susie Appleby. The day was topped off by an excellent win by our Chiefs side against Loughborough Lightening in the PWR fixture as well.

Match details

Match date

Sat 09 Mar 2024




BUCS Women's National League

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Exeter University RFC 1st XV Women (BUCS 1)
Edinburgh University Ladies
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