The Jets played with tremendous spirit and turned in a much improved performance in this Premiership Rugby Shield Northern Conference game.
Against the backdrop of the academic environs of Loughborough University, on a slick grass surface enhanced by blue American Football markings, and next to a pristine cricket ground, the scene was set for end-to-end running rugby in Springtime, and that’s what the spectators got.
Jets took an 11th minute lead after a good scrum and a forward drive. Ashman appeared to get the final touch, Warr converted. Jets went down to 14 men within five minutes and Tigers made numerical superiority count when Rawcliffe had a kick charged down, enabling Finlay to score, Hardwick converting.
A Warr penalty on 27 minutes gave the visitors the lead, but a further yellow card, for Dugdale, was followed by a penalty try for the home side. Within two minutes, play had switched up the other end and the 14 men in navy blue had a penalty try of their own to regain the lead, 17-14.
Tigers prop Ma’afu became the recipient of the game’s third yellow card, but his side did well without him, sending Finlay over in the right corner, Hardwick converting for the half time score of 21-17.
The Jets’ scrum and lineout had been very effective, with Nick Ashcroft winning all formal lineouts and Magnus Lund lookalike Sam Jones lively in the loose.
The second half saw the game played in admirable spirit, with multiple replacements and everyone getting some game time. Tigers achieved their bonus point try on 50 minutes, Holling receiving the plaudits.
Brown made a fine run, then Phoenix was halted in his tracks by Flynn, and this fast game continued its end-to-end nature.
The game started to drift away from the Jets on 55 minutes when Bitirim made a decisive thrust through the centre to set up winger Asiedu on his right. The conversion took Tigers 33-17 ahead.
Jets suffered a further blow thirteen minutes later when a missed midfield opportunity after a stolen lineout allowed Browning to go through the
middle of the visiting defence, to set up Lane for an unconverted try in the corner.
After yet another yellow card, for Tuilagi, the Jets were attacking as the match neared its end. There was time for Warr and Bullough to follow up kicks ahead and set up Pope for the evening’s final try. Warr converted for a 38-24 final score.
Team: Nathan Pope; Ed O’Keeffe, Jonty Rawcliffe, Tom Bullough, Calvin Wellington; Matt Sturgess, Gus Warr; Tom Bristow, Ewan Ashman, Alexandru Tarus, Hallam Chapman, Nick Ashcroft, Sam Jones, Teddy Leatherbarrow (capt.), Sam Dugdale.
Replacements Will Curtis, James Flynn, Steven Longwell, Matt Gallagher, Druw Fray, Georg Niehaus, Louis Brown
The Jets have one more match to play, at home against Wasps on Monday 22nd April (7.30pm) at the CorpAcq Stadium, Heywood Road.