– Josh Clark contributed with this report.

The University of Lincoln rugby union team triumphed 14-3 against a strong Birmingham University 3rd XV side last week, in a win that was essential with the Midlands university challenging near the top of the table.

The previous week’s emphatic 72–0 victory over Warwick University 3rd’s meant that Lincoln were not only coming into the game with extreme confidence, but also after having sent a message out to all other league teams that such a destructive win highlighted their intentions and quality.

In freezing temperatures, and after a long journey, Lincoln took to the field. This must win game for both teams provided the perfect stage for what was a hard fought game.

The game began with both teams sizing each other up as they traded blows with the game becoming ever more physical. Due to less than helpful weather conditions the game became scrappy, as handling often became an issue for both sides.

With the scores level at 0-0 Birmingham took their first opportunity at points by slotting a penalty leaving Lincoln 3-0 down heading towards half time.

Lincoln’s attempt to level the scores saw them miss various opportunities, with a penalty attempt and a drop goal not finding their way through the posts. This led to pressure building as Lincoln still trailed.

The breakthrough finally came after some impressive handling from the Lincoln backline, with Adam Shaw and then Mark Woolard freeing Ryan Hough for the first try of the game.

The half ended with Lincoln 7-3 up, with the team regrouping at the interval. The four-point margin that separated both sides left uncertainty within both teams with the next score being pivotal.

The second half began slowly, as it had in the first, with both teams cancelling each other out. Turnovers were ever present with members of both sides becoming isolated, leading to play being switched regularly and Lincoln being unable to sustain a consistent attack.

With the line-outs faltering at times, scrummaging provided a powerful base for an attack with number 8 Tom Landers breaking tackles after picking from the base of the scrum. His combination with scrum half Adam Shaw was often spearheading the point of attack.

Pressure was building as Birmingham pushed forward but, thanks to an impressive Lincoln defence, what seemed an inevitable score for Birmingham was held up.

After both teams had swapped territorial kicks it was a combination of backs and forwards that led to Lincoln crossing the line for their second score. After impressive handling from Howard Bishop and Louis Mann the ball was spread to full back Mark Woolard to slide over for the pivotal score.

The game ended 14-3 to Lincoln who maintain their unbeaten form for the season. Howard Bishop received man of the match award after a highly impressive performance in the backs, making intelligent running lines and hard hitting tackles.

Lincoln now top Tier 2a of the BUNAC league and will hope to maintain their unbeaten form throughout the rest of the season.