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  • Writer's pictureBen Macintyre

No CURL-y WURL-y but the show must go on

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

After the hotly anticipated CURL-y WURL-y was called off for reasons out of our control, WURL finally managed to get there Midlands 1 campaign off in game week 3 with a rearranged trip to Nottingham, a team who had just come down from the Prem. To have what was on paper our toughest match of the season as game one with 6 players making their WURL debut, was a difficult assignment but the boys were pumped up to get a game under their belts.

After getting over the initial problem of the bus getting lost en route we made it in to our changing room. Here is where the problems began. When Pierre had been given the honour of being our kit sec, he thought he was doing the job justice when he immediately washed the kit. Unfortunately, he had clearly lived an easy life and never done washing before because he proceeded to put wet kit in to the still stinking bag and leave it for 2 months to ferment. So we walked out to warm up already smelling of wet dog.

A few quick reminders of how all our moves work for our debutants and some of our slightly less bright clubmen went very successfully and we returned to the sheds to prepare for the game.

We walked out to the pitch and there was an air of anticipation. On arrival, something felt wrong. There was no ref. Despite every match we have ever played being a 2pm kick off. Our man in the middle had decided that that didn't suit him. 10 minutes later we saw a figure in black shuffling toward the pitch. We thought it was time. On arrival, he appeared confused as to why he was meant to be there. He wandered over to the touch line and had a chat with a few friends before eventually seeing the whistle in his hand and realising why the game hadn't started yet.

Sometime just before 3pm, Brad Sheridan kicked off and a viciously energetic chase resulted in a dropped ball and we had a scrum in an attacking position. Unfortunately, our debutant winger Joe Laverty showed some nerves and dropped an absolute clanger from a crossfield kick. Desperate to make amends for his mistake, a few possessions later, an exact replica play resulted in him dotting down in the corner. Brad's conversion crept wide and the score was 0-4.

Nottingham weren't particularly happy with being put behind and they came back with some hard running lines. Despite everyone putting their bodies on the line to defend, gaps appeared out wide and they broke through to make the score 4-4. WURL then managed to force 4 consecutive sets in the Nottingham half but left without a score. After Alex Minter managed to get brought down a metre short when a try looked certain, they scored again to make it 10-4 heading towards the end of the first half. Brad saw a gap at kick off and decided to take a short grubber kick off, this turned out to be am inspired choice as he retained it himself before making a break to start a set on the opposition 20. A couple of tackles later, WURL had an enormous overlap on the right hand side. In an attempt to cover it, some quick blitz defence left a gap through the middle for Adam Cox to throw a cheeky dummy and sneak through from 10 metres out and dive in to score. Brad added the extras to make it 10-10 at the interval.

A rousing team talk left the boys feeling like we could cause a big upset to start the season. Little did we know, the universe had other plans. At some point during the interval, some contact lenses were lost by our arbiter in black along with a few rules being forgotten.

As the second half began, tempers on both side began to flare as seemingly incomprehensible decisions were made. Unfortunately, WURL lost their discipline in defence more and gaps continued to appear. The energy sapping defence work led to two more scores for Nottingham before our next sustained period of pressure. Some suspect tactics in defence went unpunished as Nottingham forced errors and towards full time, as the WURL defence tired, Nottingham added another score to end the game 24-10 winners.

While there were many strong performances across the pitch from both regular clubmen and debutants, the clear man of the match was Sam Featherstone who was relentless in both defence and attack and was probably out on his own in both number of carries and number of tackles if we had access to such stats.

Both sides suffered head and joint injuries with 6 players off injured by the end and we hope everyone recovers quickly.

It was a tough opening encounter for an inexperienced side but it was played by the majority of people in good spirits and after the disappointment of defeat starts to slightly wane, WURL will be able to look back with pride at how they played for the first half and periods of the second. On to next week and an evening away trip to Derby.

For anyone who only saw the second half and couldn't make head nor tail of the decisions being made and then became confused about what game the officials thought was being played.

It was..............Rugby League

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