By Jamie Arrowsmith 05/03 Updated: 06/03 10:12
Bromsgrove 23 Loughborough Students 23
National Two North
BROMSGROVE held champions-elect Loughborough to a thrilling draw on what proved a highly entertaining afternoon at Finstall Park on Saturday.
The visitors sit 16 points clear at the top of the table but Bromsgrove are no pushover, particularly at home and they gave their all in a scintillating encounter.
Loughborough edged ahead after two minutes when Andrew Hall kicked a penalty but Bromsgrove's tactics were clear from the outset, pick up and drive in order to keep the ball away from the pace of the visitors.
Jon Critchlow levelled the scores with a penalty of his own in the tenth minute but Loughborough soon regained the lead when a clever chip from scrum half Russ Weir gave Craig Dowsett the chance to follow up and score by the posts, Hall converted.
Chances for the home side to reduce the gap came and went as Critchlow's unerring accuracy with the boot deserted him.
It was proving to be an end-to-end contest already and Loughborough worked themselves into another good position but a fine tackle from Warren Oliver saw him haul down Ed Rolston when the winger looked set to score.
Town got themselves back on the front foot and a good phase of play led to the visitors losing their second row to the sin-bin for a technical offence and Brosmgrove immediately made them pay.
Critchlow kicked the penalty that followed and shortly afterwards Aaron Higgins intercepted to score an individual try.
Loughborough got on the wrong side of the law again just before the interval when number eight Matt Lamming was also binned and Bromsgrove went in 11-10 ahead.
They hit the ground running at the start of the second half when a fine break by Lee Ward, followed by several driving phases, led to a score by Oliver in the corner.
Once they were back to their full contingent, Loughborough upped the pace and their speed to the breakdown forced several penalties. Bromsgrove countered though, with some great driving running with Burrows, McGregor, Horton, Lloyd and Jones to the fore.
The next score did go Loughborough's way when some great rugby at great pace saw Hall score and convert his own try.
Town camped themselves in Loughborough territory 15 minutes into the half and several driving mauls eventually led to Horton crashing over, Ben Copson converted.
Normally in the final quarter of a match Bromsgrove are fitter than the opposition but this was never going to be the case against the students and whilst there was not a noticeable difference, Loughborough kept hammering away and were able to convert two penalties to level the scores.
The game could have gone either way in the last ten minutes as both sides looked for the win but a superb match ended level with both teams taking a huge amount of credit.
Bromsgrove, who sit seventh in the table, face another tough challenge on Saturday when they visit third placed Caldy.
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