Leamington Royals 30-8 WURL: First game back ends in defeat despite positives.
The WURL squad after the game.
WURL made its long-awaited return to the field in an entertaining and positives-laden
game against local side the Leamington Royals yesterday. The game featured no less than six debuts for WURL as well as the return of two prodigal sons. Despite a bright start and a huge defensive effort the size and match-preparedness of the Royals, already well into their summer season, proved just a little too much for a determined and courageous WURL side that gave it their all.
The game started with a huge defensive effort after a few errors with the ball lead to the Royals camping in on WURL's try-line. Yet the boys in red and black managed to hold on for consecutive sets before the Royals went over at the 3rd time of asking. What followed was a tense and physical battle during which defence continued to be the name of the game before the Royals found a line-break off a well-run crash ball to take a 12-0 lead going into the first break.
WURL debutant Tyler Johnson-Thomas breathed new life into WURL's attack after the break by scoring two tries in quick succession from long-distance to earn himself the WURL man of the match award. Ben Macintyre could not convert from the sidelines and the score was 12-8. However, a counter-attack from broken play and a couple edge-to-edge efforts from the Royals eventually pulled the game away from WURL.
There were plenty of positives, however, from the debutants. Billy Stanhope, in his first-ever game of contact rugby, put in a huge shot on the Royals winger which was swiftly followed up by a crunching tackle from Joe Laverty out of marker. Azeem Aminudin, also on debut, proved too elusive for a tiring Royals backline towards the end of the game whilst Alex Harridine and Matt Allen also put in solid efforts up the middle on their WURL debuts. Lawrence Lemoine looked solid at hooker before having to be taken off due to an unfortunate knee injury. Away from the debutants, WURL old boys Adam Cox and Tom Palmer couldn't resist the call for one final game in WURL colours and put in performances worthy of the 2017/18 unbeaten season.
"Plenty to work on, of course, but ultimately a really good hit out after over a year without any league" said Captain Josh Chan. "If we can play like this on day one then there's no reason why we can't be a very strong squad going into next season". Captain Chan was later quoted saying "goosey" fifteen times at Kelsey's - undoubtedly a hint at the backline strategy he is seeking to implement during good ball sets. He did add more but it was mostly unintelligible.
WURL will go again against the Royals next month at a date still to be confirmed. Revenge will be on the minds of a team which showed it has a lot to offer but still a way to go before the return of BUCS rugby in October.
Returning Old Boys Tom Palmer (far left) and Adam Cox (middle) along with Ben Macintyre (first from left) Sam Percival (first from right) and Josh Chan (far right) who should be old boys themselves by now.
Final Score: Royals 30-8 WURL.
WURL Try-Scorers: Tyler Johnson-Thomas (2).
WURL Starting XIII: J. Laverty, B. Stanhope, M. Allen, S. Percival, A. Aminudin, B. Macintyre, J. Chan, R. Shorthose, L. Lemoine, T. Johnson-Thomas, D. Sham, A. Harridine, A. Cox.
Interchange: A. Dumont, T. Palmer.