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  • Writer's pictureBen Macintyre

Fortress Cry-field claims another victim

The cup competition got underway for WURL today as they faced Derby for a second week running at Cryfield. After last week’s feisty encounter, tensions were high as kick off approached. At 2 o’clock both teams had a starting team ready on the pitch awaiting the arrival of our honourable man in the middle. Unfortunately, his reverence had been delayed by important matters elsewhere before the popemobile could finally make its way South to Fortress Cryfield. So it was at 2:37pm on the dot that, finally graced with his divine presence, the game commenced.

A well directed kick off was looking like it was heading to touch before the boggy outfield held it up. It was quickly collected by the onrushing Warwick line and good field position was obtained for the first attack of the game. A few tackles later, space was found out wide and Zak Clarke had the try line at his mercy. Clearly in fear of the potential beverage based repercussions of scoring too many tries, he offloaded in to the grateful arms of Joe Laverty who dived over in the corner to make it 4-0.

From kick off, strong defence from Derby kept Warwick pegged in to their own half but the away side unfortunately forgot about the full back position entirely and a long kick from the halfway line from Brad Sheridan was chased down by Zak who doubled the lead before the extras were added and it was 10-0. The lead was nearly further extended when another kick through was almost pounced upon but a drop out was still forced and it was well over 5 minutes in to the match before Derby got their first possession.

As it turned out, whether it was 5 minutes, 5 seconds or 5 hours, it didn’t appear like it would have made a difference. The relentless Warwick defence was near impenetrable. On the odd occasion a Derby player escaped down the flanks, the cover defence was solid and the threat was rapidly nullified.

When possession was returned to them, WURL wasted no time getting up the other end of the field and created one of the biggest overlaps seen in rugby at any level only for Pierre-Louis to ignore it and go himself. After getting brought to ground short of the line, his shoulder help out just long enough for him to extend and score to avoid getting severely berated by a right edge who were facing an open try line.

The onslaught continued as Ethan found himself diving on another grubber through and the score was 20-0.

There was then a long delay as two of the Derby team went down injured, one of whom had a back injury so couldn’t be moved off of the pitch. As ambulances were called and another pitch was found, the two teams found themselves discussing the various merits of the two codes (there were very few positives found for that other sport) and whether the game should be settled by a boat race (a desperate attempt by Derby to salvage a result as it clearly wasn’t going to happen on the pitch).

Eventually, the flags, players and supporters migrated to pastures new. This was no longer the hallowed ground of so many great WURL victories. No longer the sacred earth on which Warwick had fought all their battles. No longer home. It was now an away game for both sides. A renewed intensity was found by Warwick in order to overcome this setback and for the first 5 minutes or so its was required. But the Warwick defence was never again close to being breached and they continued to play on the front foot.

Powerful runs down the touchline from debutant Matthew Roberts and Zak kept play mostly in the Derby defensive half and further tries were added by Pierre and Joe as the Derby morale was wobbling.

Repeated protestations about the poor quality of the pitch to the fluorescent yellow saint with the whistle fell on deaf ears as his holiness insisted that the game must continue. As the cacophony of dissent grew louder than the holy chorus itself, Derby were told that either they play to at least 60 minutes to make the result valid or they concede.

The game continued and after another well worked backs move down the right hand side left Warwick just inches from the line, they were again presented with an empty defensive line as the tiring defence was failing to retreat fast enough. Of course, Pierre was looking for his hat trick and dived in to the only defended area of the pitch and was stopped short. Fortunately, a quick shift out left allowed Alex Minter to dive in unopposed and it was 36-0.

With the Derby captain now on the sidelines having been sold by Alex’s earlier outrageous ankle-breaking sidestep, they decided they had seen enough, the white flags were waved (oddly by the team not full of frenchmen) and the game was called to a close.

The sight of an entire rugby team sat on their haunches devoid of ideas, confidence and fight is both a sad and strangely beautiful sight. It shows a consummate performance from Warwick to put to the sword a team who had caused problems in their two previous encounters but also takes away some of the joy of victory to have the win handed to you before the game is truly over.

Honourable mentions for this week must go to Matthew Roberts who put in a powerful display on the wing despite playing half the game with a dead leg; Richie Lucas who played his first game back after getting injured at the start of the season; and Freddie Brown who finally lived up to the talk by putting in comfortably the biggest hit of the day late on in the game.

A disappointing end to an almost flawless performance from WURL but the main objective was to get the win and progress to the next round. Next week is back to the league and Warwick travel to Birmingham. Birmingham will also be the opponents for the next round of the cup at a later date.

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