Warren Seals Opening Win For Mowden
Good start to the new season, as DMPRFC take all 5 points on offer at the Arena
With home league debuts for lock Jake Brady, scrum half Matt Dudman, prop Alfie Barron and fly half Warren Seals, full back Grant Connon and wing Chris McTurk all returning to the club, the 'settling in' period of previous seasons large influx of players was thankfully not evident, as DMPRFC immediately 'gelled' as a squad, scoring 5 tries and more than matching the young, fit student side in all departments.
With news filtering through of Loughborough's link with Leicester Tigers, the announcement of their starting XV was keenly awaited prior to this inaugural fixture of the 2017/18 season. When the squad was announced, it contained only one dual registered player, probably due to Leicester's 'A' League away game against Worcester Cavaliers on Monday away at Sixways. However, when the 'A' League dual registered players are available, no fewer than 16 players will be available to Loughborough Students, who will be a different proposition come the return fixture.
The days of catching the student 'early doors' when they are not fully up to speed with numbers prior to the beginning of their studies are gone these days, as this student side had been in 'full time' training a good 4 weeks prior to this fixture.
The visitors had the obvious pace and enthusiasm traditionally associated with any student side and were combative in the lineout, but were out-muscled at the scrum and in the collisions, with the game interrupted on numerous occasions for treatment to players. This time off in the second half must have accounted for the extra 5 - 7 minutes added on by the official at the end of the game, allowing them to make the score line more respectable with two late scores.
It was one of DMPRFC's returning players who sparked the game into life in the 6th minutes. Up until that point, DMPRFC had dominated the opening exchanges, retaining possession throughout, with all the play in the visitors half. Warren Seals saw a gap in the students defence and cut through it, touching down for the opening try (5 - 0) and converting his own try for the extras (7 - 0).
On 13 minutes Loughborough responded with a penalty from fly half Owen Waters, as DMPRFC were 'pinged' for a transgression at the ruck in front of their own posts (7 - 3).
Loughborough gradually came into the game, but never quite established themselves in it, with several attack attempts thwarted by some good home defence.
Pressure at scrum time brought the next rewards for the home side, as from a 5-metre scrum, the pack pushed their opposition over their own line for No. 8 Ollie Hodgson to score (12 - 3), SEALS again converting (14 - 3).
SEALS again struck, scoring his 'brace' in the 32nd minute, cutting another line through the visitors defence (19 - 3), however, despite a second attempt at a conversion due to the over enthusiasm of the students attempted to charge the first one down, SEALS missed a difficult retake.
Just when it looked that this would be the last score before 'oranges', confusion in the home defence allowed quick thinking Loughborough scrum half Cameron Dobinson to gather the ball and sprint to the line for the students first try (19 - 8), which was converted by Waters (19 - 10).
At the break, the game appeared finely balanced with just over a score in it, however the half had been dominated by the home side, who also missed a couple of opportunities to put them further ahead.
The students started the brighter after the interval and quickly gained a penalty within kicking distance of the posts, Waters duly obliging (19 - 13).
DMPRFC regained their stranglehold however, a break by wing Callum Mackenzie supported by Grant Connon, saw the latter take an inside pass and outsprint the visitors defence for a score under the posts (24 - 13), heralding the try bonus point for the home side. SEALS converting (26 - 13).
Again the students tried to get back into the game, as replacements were introduced from both sides, which consequentially interrupted each teams flow in the game.
DMPRFC underlined their superiority, when on the 76th minute, with some tired players on the field due to a mixture of humid conditions and a splattering of fatigue, home skipper Chris Auld took possession and set off for the visitors line, passing to centre Ben Frankland, who weaved his way to the line for DMPRFC's fifth try (31 - 13), converted by SEALS (33 - 13).
With the previously mentioned time added on, the students grabbed two late consolation tries, first from centre Tom Stapley (33 - 18) and then from winger Tim Bitirim (33 - 21), both unconverted, for an air of scoreboard respectability.
An all together decent start for DMPRFC, who look forward to the trip to Hull Ionians next week.
Connon, McTurk, Frankland, Auld, Mackenzie, Seals, Dudman, Appleby, Wood, Darkintis, Brady, Craggs, Fisher, Heaton, Hodgson.
Replacements - Barron, Vaioleti, Duff, McCartney, Law.
Fitch, Bitirim, Hirskyj - Douglas, Stapley, Watson, Waters, Dobinson, Grahamslaw, Adams, Davis, Frost, Vukasinovic, Nuttall, Boyce, Kingham.
Replacements - Lynch, Leat, Dimen, Hudson, Foster.
Tries - Seals (6, 32), Hodgson (22), Connon (51), Frankland (74)
Conversions - Seals (7, 23, 52, 75)
Penalties - None
Drop Goals - None
Tries - Dobinson (36), Stapley (76), Bitirim (80)
Conversions - Waters (37)
Penalties - Waters (13, 47)
Drop Goals - None
Half Time: 19 - 10
Full Time: 33 - 23
Referee - Mr Daniel Collins.
Assistant Referees - Mr Brendan Fitzmaurice, Mr Simon Lazenby.
Attendance - 878.
Man of the Match - Warren Seals (DMPRFC)