22nd June 2018, 11:44 | Community
England Universities claimed the 2018 President's Cup title on Wednesday after a fine 40-22 win over the Great Britain Armed Forces in Rochdale.
England were first to score through centre Jason Bass, who stretched the forces defence after receiving a long pass from Kieran Smith and dancing out of the tackles to plant the ball on the line.
Ben Stead was on target with the boot to add the extras.
England then built pressure from the kick off and, on the back of a penalty on half way, pushed on downfield for Marcus Stock to score, again from a long pass from Smith. Stead again was successful with the conversion.
The Forces side started to come alive, with powerful runs from the front row of Adam Birkett and George Clarke, but their student counterparts were running hot and it wasn't long before Smith found James Mason who slipped the ball to Lewis Fairhurst who put Lee Registe in wide on the right wing to put England further ahead. Stead's range was accurate from the touchline.
With the Forces desperately needing to get into the arm wrestle, Micky Hoyle came up with the goods, taking a wide shot from Adam Flintham to scythe through the England line.
Jamie Laing added the extras and was successful again shortly afterwards, when Josh Coupland scorched down the wing, beating three defenders to score under the posts. Both sides slugged it out for the remainder of the half, giving the vocal crowd plenty to cheer.
Half Time: 18-12
Four minutes into the second half, the Forces levelled with Adam Flintham grounding his own clever grubber kick before converting. But they were soon behind on the scoreboard, knocking on from the restart and allowing Harry Chapman to glide through untouched from the scrum to restore the Students lead, Stead again on target.
Luke Cooper brought the military men back within range, pouncing on a loose ball which stood up nicely from Flintham's chip kick, although Laing was unable to convert, leaving a two point deficit.
Pressure from both sides provided some entertaining rugby, with both sides showing confident play despite the nervy close scoreline.
Bass showed his class just after the hour mark, crashing onto a mirace off-load from Smith, to touchdown in the left centre, although Stead was unable to add the extras. Registe notched up his brace five minutes later, finding oceans of space on the right wing after Matt Chrimes' offload sewed up the defence.
Stead found his mark at the sticks to put the game safe and was on target again shortly afterwards when Bass sold an outrageous dummy to slink in for his hat-trick to seal the win and to retain the trophy for another year.
Final Score: 40-22
England Universities: Joe Capless, Harry Chapman, Jason Bass, Matt Chrimes, Lee Registe, Kieran Smith, Ben Stead, Jed Mawdsley, Will Jubb, Dan Gover, Marcus Stock, James Mason, Ryan Langton. Interchanges: Luke Stephens, Conner MacCallum, Munashe Fumhanda, Alex Clegg, Lewis Taylor, Lewis Fairhurst
UK Armed Forces: Sean Houghton, Josh Coupland, Nathan Barker, Micky Hoyle, Luke Cooper, Jaime Laing, Adam Flintham, Adam Birkett, Matty Scott, George Clarke, Jordan Kerman, Lewis Farr, Mike Harrison. Interchanges: Juite Tupua, Jake Starbuck, Pete Holmes, Ben Mellor, Ben Taylor
Referee: Aaron Moore