St Andrews University have won the oldest university varsity match for the first time since it moved to Richmond Athletic Ground in London, three years ago. They beat their rivals, Edinburgh University, 24-15.
The game itself was a cracker. It had everything. Tries, a red card, excitement and scintillating rugby from both teams, who produced a real blend of forward control and backline attack.
St Andrews University captain, Jeremy Gordon, said: “I knew we could do it. We have had a great few weeks at the start of the season and have been building towards this match and the huge occasion.
“The lads were fantastic throughout the game and we put so much pressure on Edinburgh which they couldn’t handle. I’m so happy and immensely proud.”
The game kicked off with great intensity and Danny Clink opened the scoring for St Andrews, with a well-struck penalty in the opening minutes. Edinburgh then responded with a try from winger Jordan Lewis.
St Andrews moved back into the lead soon after with some good phase play and a great offload by flanker Ciaran Harris. This set Clink away down the right and Sean Murchie dived in at the corner for the opening try.
The play from both teams impressed the large crowd and the defence in particular had the cheers coming from the stands. A continued period of pressure from St Andrews saw Edinburgh penalised on a few occasions. As a result, St Andrews extended their lead with two penalties from Clink.
Edinburgh closed the scoring in the first period with a penalty.
Half time: St Andrews University 14-8 Edinburgh University
In the second-half, Edinburgh struggled massively to cope with the continued pressure placed on them by St Andrews and conceded more penalties and once again they had a man in the sin bin. The offloading from the St Andrews forwards was causing the main problem for their opponents and great ball out of contact from George Hailstone and Robert Ridley-Thomas had the team from the capital on the back foot.
A nasty incident then took centre stage when right in front of the packed stand of supporters, Edinburgh lock, Henry Cheetham, spear tackled Sean Murchie and was shown a straight red card immediately. Edinburgh’s ill discipline was putting them out of the game and Clink knocked over another penalty.
Moving into the last 15 minutes, the atmosphere got tense as Edinburgh frantically tried to get back into the game and an excellent set piece move allowed their centre, Lewis to go through a gap in midfield to bring the match on a knife edge with only two points the difference, 17-15.
It was not to be however as for the last 10 minutes St Andrews camped on the Edinburgh line and scored a great try with an effective catch and drive from Lewis Stewart. Clink sealed a dramatic victory with the touchline conversion meaning Edinburgh would have to score twice in the dying minutes to win.
St Andrews University’s Director of Rugby, David Ross, said: “It was a huge performance from the squad and a thoroughly deserved victory. Edinburgh struggled with our ability to move the ball and the desire of our players to win.
“This event has been dominated by Edinburgh in previous years but this year is our time and the players and management staff must take a huge amount of pride in how we played. The game was extremely physical which showed the body on the line mentality that the players have. It also shows what a high standard of rugby that both teams are playing.”
Edinburgh University's Director of Rugby, David Adamson, said: "This game was once again a great event and advert for Scottish Student rugby. St Andrews thoroughly deserved their victory and were the better team on the day.
"Our ill-discipline cost us dear, and we were probably fortunate that we didn't lose by more as we played most of the game with 13 players. Four yellow cards and a red is not something I've ever experienced before, but was perhaps an indication of the pressure St Andrews put us under. Hats off to them"
Full-time: St Andrews University 24-15 Edinburgh University
Man of the match: Danny Clink