By Henry Clare
WitIn an exciting match at the Durham City RFC Stadium, the Durham men’s rugby union 1st XV came from behind to beat Nottingham 18-12 in a well-attended match. With one win from their opening two matches, Durham went into the game as marginal favourites, especially given that Nottingham had failed to win either of their previous fixtures.
However, it was the away side that started the better. From the off, Nottingham looked stronger at the scrum, and regularly pushed Durham back towards their own try line. But they perhaps took their physical advantage too far when a late challenge on Nathan Holmes led to the first of many yellow cards in the match.
Durham failed to capitalise on having an extra man on the field, and Nottingham continued to dominate, but struggled to break a resilient Durham defence. The first big opportunity for the visitors came when the Nottingham winger seemed destined to get on the end of his own kick but for Nathan Holmes’ heroic interception of the loose ball.
However, a Nottingham try seemed inevitable and, after some tricky play from their pacey winger, they finally managed to get the ball over the line. Despite being clinical in putting the ball down, Nottingham were anything but in the conversion, with their kicker scuffing his effort way wide of the post.
Durham’s response was emphatic. Despite having a man in the sin bin, they hit back immediately, with Nathan Holmes scoring following a scrum. Louis Molloy missed the conversion, to leave the game level at 5-5.
It wasn’t long before Nottingham regained their lead; after Will Foster’s last ditch challenge it looked as though Durham would get of jail – until the ball was off-loaded where Nottingham scored under the post. For the first time in the match a conversion was successfully put between the posts, and Nottingham led 12-5.
That looked like being the last of the half’s action, but Durham had other ideas again striking back quickly – this time Harry Thompson scored by the right hand touchline. From a tight angle, Molloy missed a difficult conversion, but nonetheless Durham went in at half time with just a two-point deficit.
That quickly disappeared though. In a bizarre turn of events, a Nottingham kick rebounded off Louis Molloy, who chased after the loose ball, and managed to plant it into the ground before it ran out of play. He couldn’t follow it up with a successful conversion, but the try gave Durham the lead for the first time.
Having waited so long to take the lead, the Palatinates quickly built upon it with Molloy converting a penalty to stretch the lead to 18-12.
Some great defending from Jack Heeney and Jack Beazer kept Durham in front, and despite coming under pressure from a spirited Nottingham side, they held on to win 18-12.
Next up for the side is another home match, this time against rivals Loughborough next Wednesday.