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South West Universities get the better of West of England in Regional Challenge

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This was the second ever regional challenge fixture after the South West Universities had a big win in the inaugural fixture at Frome RFC this time last year. This fixture was a lot closer than the score suggested and was played under the lights at Melksham RFC due to a late Sunday afternoon kick off. The South West Universities were 46-12 winners at full time, when captain Callum Merrett was presented with the trophy. The university students had to see off an early second half comeback from the West after going in at the break 24-0 up.

Centre Aedan Coleman scored one of the fastest every Rugby League tries after the West had fumbled from the kick off the ball somehow landed in Aedan’s hands using his sidestep to move past the rushing West defence with ease, Callum Merrett tagging on the extras with the conversion. A few minutes later Aedan Coleman was over again after finishing off a good break, duly converted by Merrett. The game evened up for a while, but it wasn’t long before Merrett finished off a break himself before adding the extras with another successful conversion. The final try of the half went to Hugo again finishing off a strong break and powering his way over, Merrett again successful with the conversion. It was clear at half time the line breaks seemed to be the only difference between the two sides, giving the South West Universities a 24-0 half time lead, but they did not have it all their own way.

The West came out fired up after the half-time team talk by Head Coach Tom Perrin, but they were already having a strong set completion rate, so not much to be too concerned about despite the score line. The West started the second half the stronger side going in for two quick fire tries without reply from winger Luc Thomas and forward Todd Johnson, unfortunately neither were converted as both scored out wide, Nick Parks unsuccessful with the first shot at goal, and Connor Tomley just pushing the second wide, with a good effort after allowing for the wind. The South West hooker Rex Boulter then went over from close range, duly converted by Merrett bringing the scores to 30-8 in the South West Universities favour, which after this score probably put a stop to the West’s comeback campaign. However, this didn’t dishearten them still showing intensity in attack and defence, the ball was moved quickly left and Luc Thomas shot over in the corner for his second try of the afternoon, but again Tomley could not convert from out wide, he went very close again minutes later in a similar position of the field but was just forced into touch by the strong South West Universities defence.

The South West pulled out of danger in the last 10 minutes with Hector Silva going over out wide from close range, Merrett with a good conversion. A few minutes later Callum Merrett scored his second try of the afternoon, again converting his own try. Then, to finish off precedings for the afternoon substitute winger Alex Mayo went over for an unconverted try, after he went very close to scoring earlier in the second half with a good 40 metre break.

A spokesperson from the respective programmes said, “This was a fantastic hit out for the West of England select testing themselves against a youthful and athletic South West Universities squad which also included some professional players. The South West Universities benefitted from the game trying out combinations as they build up to their England Universities pathways fixture against South East Universities squad at Maidenhead RFC on Sunday 2nd December 2018, 4pm kick off. The best players from across the South will then be called up to represent the South in an Origin fixture against the North in February 2019.”

West of England – Squad

1.       Mike Harrison (Bath Rugby League)

2.       Ben Mitchell (Reading Raiders)

3.       Rob Sully (Bath Rugby League)

4.       Ricky Drewitt (Southampton Spitfires)

5.       Luc Thomas (Bath Rugby League) – 2 Tries

6.       Nick Parks (Bath Rugby League)

7.       Connor Tomley (Swindon St. George)

8.       Alex Dare M’Connell (Bath Rugby League)

9.       Charlie Price (Southampton Spitfires)

10.   Kerry O’Sullivan (Reading Raiders)

11.   Joe Collins (Swindon St. George)

12.   Kyle Armstrong (Portsmouth Navy Seahawks)

13.   Todd Johnson (Swindon St. George) - Try

14.   Dan Bown (Swindon St. George)

15.   Jonny Green (Bath Rugby League)

16.   Henry May (Bath Rugby League)

Head Coach – Tom Perrin

Assistant Coach – Jay Woodley (All Golds)

South West Universities

1.       Errol Carter (University of Gloucestershire/Coventry Bears)

2.       Josh Verity (University of Gloucestershire/Swindon St George)

3.       Aedan Coleman (University of Gloucestershire/All Golds) – 2 Tries

4.       Jack Daynes (Hartpury University & College/Swindon St. George)

5.       Mike Holden (Cardiff Metropolitan University/All Golds)

6.       Daniel Ascoli (University of Bath)

7.       Callum Merrett (University of Gloucestershire/Coventry Bears) – 2 Tries, 6 Goals

8.       Hugo Marrier D’Unienville (University of Bath) – Try

9.       Rex Boulter (South London Silverbacks/University of Bath) - Try

10.   Paul Leversidge (Swindon St. George/University of Gloucestershire)

11.   Brett Davies (University of Gloucestershire)

12.   Henry Beer (University of the West of England/Swindon St. George)

13.   Sam Bragoli-Jones (University of Bath)

14.   Will Gilder (Swindon St. George/University of Gloucestershire)

15.   Lewis Harris (University of Gloucestershire)

16.   Chris Booth (Swindon St. George/University of Gloucestershire)

17.   Hector Silva (Hartpury University & College/All Golds) - Try

18.   Alex Mayo (University of Bristol) - Try

19.   Caley Gray (University of Bath/London Broncos)

20.   Connor Whittall (University of Gloucestershire)

21.   Ben Lillstone (University of Bath)

22.   Sam Gilder (Swindon St. George/University of Gloucestershire)

Head Coach – Ben Whincup (University of Gloucestershire)

Assistant Coach – Matthew Bodey (Bath Rugby League)

Team Manager – Chris Chatten (Bath Rugby League)

Therapist – Clare Avenell (Bath Rugby League)

Ref – Glenn Tyreman

West of England v South West Universities

Full time: 12-46

Half time: 0-24

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