Match report: University of Bedfordshire 2nd XV vs University of Lincoln 2nd XV

– Thomas Belli contributed to this report

Lincoln’s 2nd XV notched up an emphatic victory against league opposition Bedford in an 86-3 win at a blustery North Hykeham ground.

The University of Lincoln 2nd XV overcame University of Bedfordshire 2nd XV in a one-sided match. Photo: Thomas Belli

After a delayed start to the 2013 fixtures, and without a league game since late November, Lincoln were enthusiastic hosts for a visiting Bedfordshire side. With the top of the table so congested, the necessity of a win was enforced before the game, boosted more so by a strong turnout of support.

Early worries over rustiness were banished immediately after scrum half Liam Milroy set the standard for the day, taking a tremendous high ball and bursting through the opposition line. This lead to Lincoln slotting a penalty from the boot of fellow half-back Sam Strickson within the first minute of the game.

Thirsty for more, the fly-half didn’t have long to wait before he was on the scoreboard once again. Capitalising on a passing error within Bedford’s 22, Strickson was able to pounce on the bobbling ball for the first try of the game.

With the wind restricting kicking options, it was left up to the Lincoln’s forwards to find the territory. Crashing runs from the likes of Rob Darcy and Joe Cooke gave the home side a great advantage, shrugging off some weak Bedfordshire tackling to set up speedy ball for the backs.

But it was forward Connor Barnes who grabbed the next score. A great lineout steal from Rob Darcy and interchange with captain Josh Casbon allowed the flanker to force his way over, highlighting an excellent piece of forward play.

It became even more of a back-row affair when flanker Josh Casbon joined the try-scoring party, touching down along with fellow forward Dom Hodge and centre Johno Milnes.

However, before half time was called, there was chance for Alex Tilbury to assist Jordan Foster, after a bruising run, and eventually Dan Robinson, who displayed smart footballing skills to leave the half time score 40-0.

With such a commanding lead, it was conceivable that Lincoln would rest on the laurels and attempt to see out the rest of the second half. But no complacency was shown, as fresh legs joined the side to boost a lead that Lincoln were not yet satisfied with.

Instantly the home team roared into life, with the leading scorer from the first half, Sam Strickson, once again finding himself in the right place to dot down, whilst Johno Milnes added the extras.

Considering the lack of match time together before the game, the 2nd XV were demonstrating some of their most expansive rugby. With emphasis in training being on keeping the ball alive, it was evident this had sunk in on the pitch.

This was highlighted when a pop from the tackle led to a missile pass out to the wing, where Josh Casbon lay in wait to snatch another for his own impressive points tally. Shortly after, it was the turn of Alex Tilbury to increase a substantial lead after battling his way through a tired defence.

Despite the onslaught from Lincoln, Bedford showed glimmers of hope to join the score board. On one occasion, space opened up for a carving run from the opposition outside centre. However, half time replacement Tom Belli stopped him in his tracks with a fierce tackle, retaining the 59-0 score-line.

Although the opposition did manage to get off the mark with a well-struck penalty in the swirling wind, it simply spurred Lincoln on for the remainder of the half. Slick passing left Sam Brewer free to race down the wing for his first try of the game, whereas a further try from Josh Casbon sealed a hat-trick for the captain.

As the game wore on Lincoln were increasingly dominant. Enough so to be able to implement training ground lineout moves, allowing Joe Cooke and hooker Dom Hodge to stretch their lead further.

An outstanding performance from the Lincoln pack was the story of the day and, fittingly, it was forward Joe Cooke who grabbed the final try of the match and his second of the day, to seal an 86-3 victory.

Commitment from Lincoln’s 2nd XV was evident throughout the game, with the pack dominating in all areas, to release a back-line full of pace and strength. Typifying this was young winger Jordan Foster, who received man of match for his tireless effort supporting on both flanks, delivering a strong performance overall.

If promotion is what Lincoln will be targeting, then another victory like this will be much sought for the university side.

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