Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 12, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home SportLocal Town vs. Gown: EURFC Take On Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park

Town vs. Gown: EURFC Take On Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park

Anabel Costa-Ferreira, Editor-in-Chief, and Harry Craig, Deputy Editor, were at a chilly Sandy Park to watch EURFC face the Chiefs.
3 mins read
EURFC vs. Exeter Chiefs, Sandy Park
EURFC 21-43 Exeter Chiefs
Image: Anabel Costa-Ferreira

In a change from their usual duties playing the best in the Premiership and BUCS Super Rugby respectively, Exeter Chiefs and Exeter University Rugby Football Club came together on the 15th of January for a friendly match at Sandy Park.

Although the temperatures didn’t get above freezing the whole evening, a packed crowd of over 3000 ensured the atmosphere soon warmed up, as locals and students alike turned out to cheer for both sides.

Chiefs delivered on widespread expectation that they would beat their student rivals, despite not putting out their first team, with seven tries. Winger Noah Fenton in particular stood out for the Chiefs, with a hat-trick of tries. Nonetheless, EURFC held their own, crossing the whitewash three times. Charlie McCaig added the extras on each occasion meaning that it ended 43-21 to the Chiefs.

Chiefs, currently fourth in the Premiership, arguably put the match out of reach for EURFC within its early stages, scoring three times in the first 15 minutes, as Jack Dunne put them on the board before many fans had even taken their seats.

Fenton would get a second try on the board for the Chiefs in the 24th minute before EURFC had a chance to score, with some hard work in the final ten minutes of the first half helping full-back Benjy Joseland to the team’s first try of the match.

The second half started with the same ease for Chiefs, as Fenton completed his hat-trick in the 43rd minute, but EURFC’s Kofi Barton-Byfield fought back four minutes later to narrow the gap, albeit slightly, with the team’s second try.

Frankie Nowell’s try soon after likely ended any optimistic hopes of an EURFC comeback, but a few changes in the 61st minute reinvigorated EURFC, as Will Smears scored soon after. Hallam Chapman extended Chiefs’ lead just before the match’s conclusion.

Playing in front of that many people is always special and [it] was great to be back out playing with the lads after Christmas time off.

Chris Freeman, EURFC Club Captain

Taking the time to reflect on Monday’s match, Club Captain Chris Freeman was able to speak to Exeposé, commenting that “Monday’s match was another unreal experience to play at Sandy Park in front of a big crowd” and that “playing in front of that many people is always special and [it] was great to be back out playing with the lads after Christmas time off.”

Irrespective of the scoreline, EURFC should be heartened by their performance on the cold Monday evening. Any opportunity for the University team to play in front of thousands at Sandy Park is excellent experience for the players, particularly against a team of the calibre of the Chiefs.

It will certainly put EURFC in good stead as they continue to dominate the BUCS Super Rugby League, with 10 wins from 11 matches in the first half of the season. After a month-long break in the BUCS season for the Christmas holidays, a tough mid-season friendly against a Premiership team should give Exeter momentum as they head away to play fierce rivals Loughborough on the 24th of January.

EURFC face fierce rivals Loughborough on the 24th of January before returning to Sandy Park to take on Cardiff.

Looking ahead to the remainder of the term, EURFC noted that students can look forward to “our Anglo-Welsh clash against Cardiff on the 14th of February” where they will once again be back to Sandy Park.

As a team, EURFC shared that, this year, they hope to “go onto win the League and BUCS Championship again” for a third consecutive year. Elsewhere, they “hope teams can compete to their best ability in knockout games in their relevant leagues.”

Beyond BUCS, however, this friendly fixture also gave an opportunity for some of EURFC’s up-and-coming talent to prove themselves in front of the Chiefs’ management, and make a name for themselves in the world of professional rugby.

EURFC and Chiefs have a long-standing talent exchange partnership, with the likes of Sam Skinner and Christ Tshiunza going on to play for Chiefs and country. EURFC alumni and Chiefs player Dafydd Jenkins was also recently named as Wales’ Six Nations captain.

Although Town may have come on top ahead of Gown this time, some of EURFC’s stars will hope, therefore, that their performances turned a few heads, beyond just the hundreds of University students in the stands on Monday evening.

As a university team, we also asked EURFC to comment on why they feel playing against Chiefs is a valuable experience for them. In response to this, they noted that “it was a great opportunity to play against a really physical and quick side” and “although the score line didn’t go our way, I thought we were excellent both with and without the ball. Those kinds of matches provide us with loads of learnings which we can take into future games.”

They further stated that for the club “these are unreal nights for members to pull together and celebrate at an occasion. The crowd was once again unbelievably loud, and it really helps you when you play.”

Match details:

Exeter University Rugby Football Club 21-43 Exeter Chiefs

EURFC: B Joseland; K Barton-Byfield, C McCaig, C Ribbons (Mignot 69’), H Ellerby (Gentry 61’); L Mignot (Coen 50’), J Murray (Smears 54’); J Williams (Freeman 61’), L Gulley (Vajner 61’), T Gulley (Ando 61’), J Cunningham, A Bell, L Dorrell (C), J Forsythe (C Bell 66’), S Driscoll (Brooke 52’).

Tries:  Joseland, Barton-Byfield, Smears. Conversions: McCaig (3).

Chiefs: A Relton; P Brown (Clinch 5’), F Nowell, Z Wimbush (Sellick 59’), N Fenton (Bond 72’); I Jenkins (Howard 30’, Watts 72’), J Snow; D Southworth (Johnson 59’), M Norey (C) (Hocking 59’), M Street (Schickerling 49’), J Dunne, E O’Connor (Worley-Brady 40’), M Postlethwaite, H Chapman (Rolls 77’), K James (Moody 66’).

Tries: Dunne, Fenton (3), Wimbush, Nowell, Chapman. Conversions: I Jenkins (2), Snow, Bond.

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