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  • Writer's pictureBen Macintyre

The million to one shot

In 1981, New South Wales RFL introduced the sin bin to punish players who have committed penalties. The offending player is sent off for 10 minutes. This period of time was seen as a severe punishment for the team who would likely concede a try or two in this time and would also have to use significantly more energy to make up for the missing man. With that in mind, it would be nigh on suicidal to play with 12 for the whole game especially without any substitutes. Well that’s what WURL decided to do today at Birmingham. Having decided that the lack of transport and subsequent negotiation of buses and trains and long walk to the ground wouldn’t be enough of a disadvantage, they doubled down and had 8 first team players unavailable with a variety of excuses ranging from legitimate to ludicrous.

The team arrived at the ground in dribs and drabs and looked around for an opposition. Unfortunately, the game had been moved and it had clearly been decided that it wasn’t necessary to tell us. Once the instagram DM was received with details, Warwick wandered over to the shipping containers that were to act as our changing room. The players just about emerged in time to do some stretches and get ready for kick off as energy needed to be retained for the battle ahead.

At half time, Warwick had been battling hard and putting in some courageous defence so the break was well received. Given the break and an extra burst of adrenaline, the away side came out with a renewed vigour and began to put pressure on the Birmingham team and were rewarded with good field position. Unfortunately, the extra man was made to count after 10 minutes as the home side found space down the left wing to dive in at the corner and make it 4-0.

The intensity of the Warwick attack increased with barraging runs from Sam Featherstone and George Edge helping get Warwick close to the try line before Adam Cox was stopped less than a metre short. As is becoming a regular feature of these match reports, I must observe the enormous overlap WURL had down the left edge that was entirely ignored by Pierre but fortunately he managed to dive in and Ethan Cross added the extras to make it 4-6. Many sets of desperate defence followed as tiredness began to set in and Birmingham began to bring on fresh legs but the wall of defence was not to be breached again with three attacks being held up just inches short of the line. Warwick did threaten at various times, especially when Alex Minter made a strong break straight through the middle of the Birmingham defence, but never quite looked like having the finishing touch as the energy sapping defence took its toll and WURL’s expansive play in the second half went unrewarded.

All in all a great performance from the 12 men who turned up and put their bodies on the line for the team. Special mentions must go to Henry Garrett who made his first appearance of the season on the wing and made many strong carries and solid tackles; Sam Featherstone who made carries and tackles with such metronomic consistency it is sometimes difficult to believe he is human; and George Edge who, in a bizarre change to his usual behaviour, passed occasionally (although it must be noted that his last one of the game was shocking).

Next week, Warwick are home against the same opponents in the second round of the cup.

PS The first half was less good in terms of the score but it must be noted that the performance was still brilliant. There were a couple of brain fades that allowed Birmingham tries but generally WURL were on top and had multiple repeat sets near the home team’s line but just lacked the cutting edge to get on the scoreboard. Pierre insisted that the match report notes that he managed yet another one on one steal to help turn defence in to attack. There was also a barn-storming 50 metre run from Sam Featherstone but unfortunately a lack of support prevented it being turned in to points.

Final Score: Birmingham 26-6 Warwick

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