Pre-season defeat leaves UBRFC with work to do

BUCS champions Hartpury proved too good for a developing Birmingham team


Birmingham’s young and promising 1st XV met more than their match on Wednesday afternoon, as reigning BUCS champions Hartpury College showed that the Reds still have room for improvement.

In their 3rd pre-season warm up match, UBRFC’s double header saw the Mens 1st’s and 2nd’s take on extremely well drilled Hartpury sides, who definitely showed the large crowd why they are the best in the country as they secured impressive victories in both matches.

However in neither game did the score lines reflect the nature of the match, with both 1st’s and 2nd’s displaying glimpses of promising things to come.

The UBRFC 1st's get their first pre-season match underway

The UBRFC 1st’s get their first pre-season match underway

1st XV:

With the late afternoon sun blazing down onto the Bournbrook, an inspired start from UoB 1st’s saw Sam Corlett score an early try as UoB tried to assert themselves in what was set to be a tense affair.

After great link up play between Corlett and Tom Vooght down the right hand side, Birmingham provided a clinical finish, with Corlett showing his pace down the touch line to sail over the white wash for a try in the corner.

The conversion was missed by promising Fly-Half, Robbie Keith- who has recently been contracted by top rugby outfit Worcester Warriors- to leave the score standing at 5-0 to Birmingham.

The promising start from the reds was not to be capitalised upon though, and Hartpury, determined to set the bench mark, displayed their champion quality in impressive fashion.

Fly-half, Robbie Keith, preparing for a conversion

Fly-half, Robbie Keith, preparing for a conversion

A lengthy injury delay moments after UoB’s try brought the Reds momentum to a standstill, a period of hesitancy which the visitors took full advantage of.

Sensing a lull in Birmingham’s composure, Hartpury started to ask questions of the home side’s defence, and a series of probing runs mixed with some excellent handling saw the visitors efforts duly rewarded with a try.

The following 20 minutes saw Hartpury go from strength-to-strength, as they dominated possession despite having a man in the sin bin.

Using to full effect their array of skilful backs, the Gloucestershire outfit managed to notch up another 4 unanswered tries before UoB had a chance to regroup.

Keith crossing the white wash

Keith crossing the white wash

UoB showed some excellent attacking and defensive work in patches but struggled to really get a foothold in the game, as Hartpury began to outclass them in all departments.

Although Hartpury’s attacking flair and strength in the scrum was clear to see, UoB’s starlet flyhalf Robbie Keith gave the home side hope for a comeback.

Keith looked a constant threat, seeking to get Birmingham’s pacey backs moving and exploiting space wherever possible. Eventually, his tenacity  and probing runs paid off, and a quick penalty saw the fly half dart under the posts.

Keith’s successful conversion made the scores 31-12, but any momentum for UBRFC was quickly dashed, when Hartpury produced a late flurry to end the first half in convincing fashion.

After a series of well-worked phases, a scurry along the back line saw the darting Hartpury left-winger fly down the touch line for a well finished try. A successful conversion saw the visitors take a comfortable lead into the half-time break, with the score standing at 36-12.

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A stern team talk from new UoB coach Tom Drewett saw Birmingham come out firing for the beginning of the second half.

And their new found resolve was rewarded early on, when quick-footed centre Sam Corlett weaved in and out of Hartpury’s defence to touch down in the corner for his second try.

Corlett’s try seemed to spur the home side on, causing a noticeable increase in tempo from the forwards at the breakdown. Although Birmingham displayed an encouraging spirit to get back into the game, Hartpury once again proved lethal in the final stages.

Following a good spell of possession from Birmingham, a quick turnover saw Hartpury’s nifty scrum half evade several defenders to find his way over the try line, increasing the score to an unassailable 43-17.

Hartpury asserted their strength at scrum time

Hartpury asserted their strength at scrum time

As though determined to rub the salt into the wounds, the last 10 minutes saw Hartpury really turn up the heat on a tired Birmingham defence, resulting in another well taken try.

Fresh from the bench, Hartpury’s substitute right winger proved too good down the outside, navigating his way over from the half way line on two occasions to take the final score to a resounding 58-17 victory for the visitors.

Despite suffering a heavy defeat, Birmingham can take comfort from the fact that they showed flair and at times looked a real threat- with real positives to be taken from all aspects of their play.

Several first-year players also caught the eye, and come the beginning of the season the team will be hoping that a tough preseason and game-time experience for their new first-year contingent will pay dividends, in what will undoubtedly be a competitive league campaign.

The 2nd's talking tactics

The 2nd’s talking tactics

2nd XV:

In the match prior to the 1st’s, the 2nd’s also faced Hartpury and suffered a similar fate to their first team squad mates- losing 48-13 to the Gloucestershire College.

In a slightly more even contest the early stages showed little difference in the sides abilities, but as the match went on Hartpury showed relentless attacking intensity and scored a total of seven tries to UoB’s two.

Even though a worthy defensive effort was put in by UoB, they could not contain Hartpury’s attacking skill and this resulted in a 48-13 defeat.

A rare attacking line-out for the blues

A rare attacking line-out for the blues