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St Andrews claim dramatic victory in varsity rugby match

The oldest varsity rugby match in the world between the University of St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh ended with a last minute 27-26 victory for the St Andrews Men’s 1st XV.

A team celebration after the St Andrews rugby team beats Edinburgh at the annual varsity match.

A day of fine rugby, friendly competition and excellent sportsmanship was enjoyed by nearly 10,000 spectators at Murrayfield with an impressive turnout of St Andrews students.

Earlier in the day in the women’s match Edinburgh University proved too strong for St Andrews. Leading 24-0 at the interval after a hat-trick of tries from Scotland centre Lisa Thomson, Edinburgh went on to win 36-7, but not after a tremendous fight back from the St Andrews squad, which included a well-earned try by Fiona Cooper, converted by first year stand-off Abbie Henderson.

In the highly anticipated men’s match St Andrews quickly took the lead, with two quick tries from Ruari Bell and Finn Murphy to take the score to 12-0, with Murphy converting the first. A short time later St Andrews went over for their third try thanks to fly-half Scott Docherty. But this early lead wavered as Edinburgh made changes and St Andrews were reduced to 13 men after two back-to-back yellow cards. Edinburgh quickly reduced the deficit to 5 points with two quick tries of their own, taking the score to 17-12 at half time.

It was a more confident Edinburgh team that emerged from the changing rooms and quickly took the lead with their third try to take the score to 17-19. Through a Finn Murphy penalty, St Andrews were able to claw back the lead, going 20-19 up with ten minutes to go. When Edinburgh went over the line for their fourth try with eight minutes remaining on the clock to take the lead and the score to 26-20, it was looking desperate for the St Andrews fans.

In a nerve racking last few minutes of the game, Scott Docherty managed to find space on the West Stand touchline and offloaded to Rory Gardner who squeezed over in the right hand corner and took the score to 25-26 to Edinburgh.

With no time left on the clock, up stepped Finn Murphy. As the stadium held its breath Murphy, an U19 Scottish Rugby League International, showed his class and held his nerve, smoothly slotting the ball between the posts to silence the Edinburgh crowd and earn St Andrews the most dramatic of victories.

Finn went on to win Man of the Match, which was awarded in memory of former St Andrews student and Rugby Club Captain Steven Sims, who tragically passed away a few years ago. The award was selected by former St Andrews alumnus and Scotland International, Jonny Petrie.

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