Hes East, the top seed from the York inter-collegiate rugby season were unfortunate to lose their Varsity match against Castle College Durham by a single point after an engrossing match
Hes East could take comfort from the fact that they left everything on the field, as both teams put in exceptional performances in a physical encounter that demanded much from the players. The Durham college were the first to strike, gaining a 7 point lead only a few minutes into the game. Hes East shit back swiftly however, stringing together some good phase play before the backs attacked from inside the 22. Ollie Ashdown added the conversion to level the scores. Castle scored again, taking their tally to 12, but the York college soon began to gain the ascendancy. Hes East fielded an enormous pack, who began to exercise their superior power in both the tight and loose. Ashdown’s passing allowed the Hes East forwards to accelerate onto the ball; constantly barreling over the gainline, before the ball was spread wide to the backs. Second rows William Keyte and Joshua Hartman were at the forefront of this effort, as they frequently beat defenders. As the forwards tore holes in the Castle line, the backs hit incisive and intelligent lines; a trickle became a flood, and Hes East stormed over, with the conversion following. 14-12 to Hes East, and an excellent game was brewing.
The second half began as the first did, and Castle hit back with a try; this preceded a period dominance for the Durham side. They scored again, extending their lead to 22-14. A change in tactics perhaps contributed to that; as Castle began to utilise their kicking game more, in contrast to a first half in which the game had been played almost exclusively in hand. Castle’s pack began making serious inroads in their carrying, making up for their comparative lack of size with a really strong offloading game. Hes East got back into it with a try; 22-21. Castle were relentless however, and soon pulled further away, with another unconverted try. Hes East utilised their strong bench, bringing on former captain Jake Morris and talented back Caswell Sparks. This move paid dividends, and they were able to score a converted try to take the lead, 28-27. Castle scored their final try, setting up a tense finale at 34-28 to the Durham side. Hes East struck back with a stunning try; the Hes East winger received the try in his own half, scorched past his opposite number, kicking the ball past the fullback before regathering and scoring. The final two minutes were played with a single point between them, Castle desperately trying to cling on to their slender lead at 34-33. Possession changed hands multiple times in a tense finale. Finally, a Hes East knock on led to the game’s end, with agony for the home side.