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  • Writer's pictureBen Macintyre

2017/18 Season in review

WURL enjoyed one of its most successful seasons ever in 2017/2018, as we won both the League and the Cup undefeated.

The team after winning the league.

The season began away to Lincoln, and immediately we had to deal with awful conditions and cold weather – in other words, proper rugby league. For many, it was their first taste of league after converting from union, but all made the transition seamlessly as WURL won its first game by 4 points.

Our first home game of the season was a big one as we took on Cambridge 1sts and made a huge statement by running in 3 tries by halftime and emphatically winning 36-4 against a side that would go on to win all of its remaining league games. It was another game in tough conditions, but we were able to fire the first warning shot to the rest of the competition by taking down one of the favourites for the title.

Two weeks later we travelled to Northampton and recorded what would prove to be our biggest win of the season, running away with it 6-66 away from home. At this point the squad was really starting to take shape with everyone knowing their roles, and a real ruthless streak was revealed as WURL continued to pile on the points despite having the game won by halftime.

Another two-week break followed before travelling away from home again, this time to Nottingham. A completely different game to our last away trip, this truly was a game of attrition with WURL only leading by a try before captain Calum Linton gave us daylight by scoring with around 10 minutes to go.

Our next home game brought the return to Warwick of our ex-captain, now of Oxford, who marked the occasion by wearing his WURL socks. It wasn’t a happy return for him though as Warwick held onto a tough game that seesawed back and forth, winning it 28-24, after at one point leading 24-6.

A forfeit by Oxford Brookes meant that our next game came on the 31st of January, away to Derby. Despite not having won a game all season, Derby were up for a dogfight and what was perhaps the worst performance of the season meant that we were behind early doors. A champion team knows how to win ugly though and WURL did eventually find enough to emerge victorious, 16 to 36.

A break in league fixtures meant that WURL was about to begin its Midlands Cup campaign, with a quarter-final clash against Nottingham Trent. Another game of attrition was eventually won by a late try as Warwick eventually booked a place in the semi-finals with a 28-22 win.

WURL only had to wait a week for its semi-final, at home to Oxford Brookes. An understrength Brookes side still managed to be extremely difficult to break-down for the unusually blunt WURL attack, but Warwick still found enough to win 14-8 and get to its first cup final since 2014.

WURL’s last league game of the season brought a much-changed Nottingham Trent side to Cryfield, and WURL completed the league season undefeated as we romped to the second largest win of the season, 62-6. Warwick set the tone early, scoring off our first set, and the pressure never really relented for Nottingham Trent as we scored over 10 tries.

Varsity against Coventry brought our only defeat of the season. Despite Coventry having the benefit of having a collection of semi-professional players from the Coventry Bears – an advantage they rarely acknowledge – Warwick did themselves proud, only losing in the last 15 minutes.

Only one game left in the season remained, and it was the Cup final away to Oxford and another reunion with our ex-Captain. WURL were never going to let him have the last laugh though and after a tight opening, the game broke open for us after an intercept try by Adam Cox. WURL eventually won the Cup with a final score of 18-42. A try in the final minute meant that Luc Avent, one of our forwards and ex-president playing his final game for the club, was allowed to take the conversion. He missed.

Every player and club member pitched in to make this season what it was, ending in personal accolades for some. Harry Riley ended as top scorer with a mind-boggling 19 tries, Henry Dowthwaite was voted Most Improved, our absolute tank of a forward Max Taberham was voted Biggest Tackler and Calum Linton, who played on through countless injuries, was Man of Steel. Luc Avent was awarded club colours by Warwick Sport for his contribution to the club, having served as President and Marketing and Publicity Officer.

An overwhelmingly successful campaign for WURL ends with the first double in our history. With it comes promotion to Midlands 1A, and the mouth-watering prospect of 3 (3!) encounters with arch-rivals Coventry as well as an away game in the BUCS Rugby League Trophy against University rugby league giants, Northumbria University. Bring on next season!

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