The Reds were too hot for the Medics to handle
UBRFC cantered home to victory, enjoying a 36-0 drilling over their varsity rivals.
The stage was set for a titanic clash, but Birmingham put on a masterclass performance to stun a crestfallen Medic team.
With a huge crowd spurring both sides on, there was a real intensity to the match from the outset.
But it was UBRFC who proved irresistible from start to finish, outclassing their opponents in all departments.
Right from the first whistle, Birmingham looked to dominate physically, with their engine-room pack giving the Medics no platform to create anything meaningful out wide.
Number eight Tom Vooght was a powerhouse all over the park, putting in a man of the match performance that saw him notch two tries, while team mate and prop Branfield was monstrous going forward through the centre.
Meanwhile, halfback pairing Gulliford and Labron commanded the back line with an air of confidence, setting free live-wire winger Amesh Ahir – who proved a constant and probing threat out wide.
With the game underway, it didn’t take long for the First XV to make their intentions clear, with the forwards making their mark with a series of pick-and-goes towards the Medic line.
Early superiority told quickly, with Birmingham taking the first points after five minutes, Labron slotting a penalty awarded due to Medic foul play at the breakdown.
From thereon in the first half was nearly all Birmingham, and a relentless tirade in attack was equalled by impervious defending.
Even when Birmingham lost open-side flanker Ashbridge and prop Bennett to the sin bin – partly due to a referee eager to flout his cards about – the Medics never looked likely to trouble the university outfit.
The Firsts very nearly extended their lead soon after – via an Ahir interception out on the wing – but it was called back for an earlier offence.
It was but a temporary relief for the Medics however, and minutes later Birmingham dotted down for an excellent score, with outside centre Riven Earle latching onto a lucky bounce from a perfectly lofted Labron cross-field in the right corner.
Labron stepped up and duly dissected the sticks, taking the lead to 10-0.
The score seemed to galvanise Birmingham further, and even after some good play from the Medics backline – particularly off the back of some threatening running by fullback Sam Bourke – the university pack proved increasingly irresistible.
A flutter of scrummages and patient build-up drove the Firsts into the opposition’s five. Held up on the line seconds earlier, the Birmingham pack pushed over the white-wash, leaving Gulliford with the pleasure of falling on the ball to take things to 15-0. Labron tapped over to add the extras.
The conversion ended first-half proceedings, with Birmingham looking comfortable at 17-0.
Despite stern words during the break, the Medics could do little to contain their opponents, who came out firing once again in the second half.
They did have chances, but far too often opportunities were squandered through a string of handling errors and dogged defending on the part of their opponents.
Back to their full contingent of 15, Birmingham dominated the half, completely shutting out their opposition in all aspects of the game.
The line-out especially, proved to be a constant source of strength for the Firsts – one which they took full advantage of.
An early second half penalty saw Labron send a great nudge into touch just out from the Medic five. Looking to pile on the misery, the pack yet again drove Birmingham home, this time Vooght claiming the honours. Labron failed to convert, leaving the score at 22-0.
The third try signalled the opening of the floodgates for Birmingham, as the Medics resolve began to crumble in the face of constant pressure.
Quality of handling began to tell, and the Firsts continued to surge forward with wave after wave of attritional phase-play, along with a number of piercing runs from the big carriers in the pack.
It wasn’t long before this sustained momentum paid off, and after a devastating run from unlikely rumbler Chris Powell, a series of rolling mauls saw Vooght dart under the posts for another converted try.
At 29-0 the rout was almost complete, but Birmingham, intent on rubbing in the salt, chalked up one last try in the corner to put the gloss on the victory.
After another immense drive up the midfield, the flow between pack and three-quarters was clear for all to see.
The back line showed their quality, flinging the ball from left to right, until replacement winger Charlie Bramhall cantered in at the corner. Labron, impeccable off the tee all night, slotted the conversion to see the match blow up at 36-0.
With things wrapped up, Birmingham were more than good value for money- they put on a showcase of excellent attacking rugby and clinical finishing.
The gulf between the two teams was reflected in the strength of Birmingham’s pack, and although the Medics can take some positives from the game, they were both outfought and outthought by their opposition.
The Firsts will undoubtedly take huge encouragement from the scalp, as they continue to push as promotion hopefuls in the league campaign.