Twin achievement by Cardiff students

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The Independent Online
Cardiff Institute 6 Loughborough University 3

A dark, dank day at Twickenham ensured a universities' final that was nothing like last season's epic involving West London and Swansea, but if ever a match proved that thrilling rugby does not need tries as an imperative this was it.

Cardiff Institute, an educational academy that has produced dozens of Welsh internationals, headed most illustriously by Gareth Edwards and most recently by Jonathan Humphreys and Justin Thomas, won at only their second attempt.

And though there were 74,300 fewer spectators watching them yesterday than had seen England winning the Five Nations here last Saturday, the victors' sense of achievement was no less.

To become champions was a triumph in itself, but the other holy grail of the student game is to beat Loughborough, who have won this title 25 times in the past 44 seasons, and Cardiff did so with a combination of implacable defence and a phenomenal performance by their forwards in broken play.

In such dismal conditions, this was critical. Loughborough were overwhelmingly superior as initial ball-winners, their backs - especially the former England reserve Alan Buzza - - were circumscribed and their forwards outpaced and outplayed in the loose.

Even so, they should really have won. Two penalties from two attempts by the goal-kicking No 8 James Savastano had given Cardiff a six-point lead they retained until nearly four minutes into first-half stoppage time, when Buzza landed his second and last attempt.

Loughborough had one second-half let-off when Cardiff's mainly inspirational captain Jonathan Evans declined to let Savastano take a simple kick at goal, and would surely have squared the match if David Nunn's untimely footwork had not caused George Gadjovich to reverse a penalty kick when 13 minutes - of unbroken Loughborough attacking - remained.

Cardiff: Penalties Savastano 2. Loughborough: Penalty Buzza.

Cardiff Institute: M Evans; J Dodd, R Sheppeard, G Eastment, G Stiff; G Vobe, D Edwards (M Sage, 80); J Evans (capt), R Campbell, A Millward, S Martin, N Watkins, A Davies, J Savastano, S Gardner.

Loughborough University: S Jones; R O'Neill, N Propper, N Osman, N Miller; A Buzza, J Daniels (C Cosue, 69); S Beaufoy (A Poole, 38), C Johnson (D Nunn, 44), A Kelly (A Poole, 10-12), G Webster, R White, J Powell, R Winters, C Davis (capt).

Referee: G Gadjovich (Canada).

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