FeaturedRugbyTeam Sunderland

Men’s Rugby Union win the BUCS Northern Conference Shield

A dramatic late comeback and an emphatic extra time saw Team Sunderland Men’s Rugby Union win the BUCS Northern Conference Shield.

Team Sunderland Men’s Rugby Union in the Northern Conference Shield final.

Trailing by 14 with six minutes of regular time to go, late tries by Devrim Koca and team captain Michael Holder saw Zach Campbell convert with the final kick of the game. An “absolutely buzzing” Ethan Sutcliffe scored twice in extra time to win 36-22.

In what was a tight first half, Northumbria 4ths opened a gap of 22-8 15 minutes after the interval as they continuously found a way to break through the middle. The late comeback inspired by the Koca try saw Campbell make his first conversion of the afternoon on the right edge of the pitch.

The last possession before full-time saw Sunderland drive a scrum over the line, with Holder planting the ball down to embody the ‘never say die’ spirit within the squad – and the try was of little surprise to the captain.

Michael Holder in action.

“I was calm, I knew we were going to score that try. Five metres out, that’s what we’ve been doing all season. When we score, the majority of them we absolutely butcher them in the scrum – obviously a little bit nervous, but I knew we were going to get this try.

“The first half was tight, it was 8-5 (to Northumbria), then early second half we went down to 22-8. When we got back into playing the rugby that we wanted to play, we started kicking on then. I mean, we left it late, but we knew as soon as we got that first try it was always going to happen.”

We played absolutely mint in that second half and it really shows our unity as a team this season, and it’s fully deserved.”

Two points behind with it all resting on the final kick of the game by Campbell, the Northern Irishman remained calm to send the game into an additional 20 minutes.

“I wasn’t too nervy,” said Campbell. “If it had been a bit wider I might have been a bit nervous, but I was confident that I was going to make it.”

Team Sunderland Men’s Rugby Union celebrate with their gold medals.

With the job not yet done, Team Sunderland Elite Athlete Sutcliffe made his presence felt in an emphatic fashion. The first coming from a line-out after a perfectly placed kick into touch by Campbell, while the final try came from him breaking through the defensive line and planting the ball down with intent.

“I’m absolutely buzzing. It’s what people dream of don’t they, we practice them in training all the time. We went down, but we came back as a team. It’s an unreal feeling.”