Last Wednesday saw Imperial rugby 1st team take on St Mary’s in the league title decider. Both teams were tied on points and promotion was at stake, it was going to be the toughest game of the season. The conditions during the warm up were standard Harlington; it was cold, wet and windy. James Cox got the game under way, and a good start saw IC remain camped in St Mary’s half for the first ten minutes. It wasn’t long before Mary’s conceded a penalty under the pressure. A kick to touch put IC in their favourite position – an attacking line out on the five metre line! Sean ‘the Beast’ Baker was unfortunate not to score the opening try, the referee judging that the ball was held up over the line.
However, the IC pack was determined to register some points, and the resulting scrum saw a classic 8, 9, 14 move rewarded with a try from Jack Judd. Sadly Jack was injured for his efforts, so Freddy White was introduced to the action. As the half progressed, St Mary’s started to come more and more into the game. However, good work in the line out by Captain Charlie Esberger limited their attacking options; and good defence in the midfield, notably from Mike Floyd, forced St Marys to settle for a successful 3 point penalty. The half time score was 5-3.
St Mary’s got the second half underway. Neither team seemed to be able to break the others defence; poor conditions gave wingers Fraser ‘the Salmon’ James and Ed Durkin little to work with. However, a good spell of play positioned the Imperial forwards once again in their favourite position. With hooker Rob Kyle’s throwing on form, the result was inevitable – a try for ‘the Beast’. James Cox stepped up to add the extras from a difficult position. The next twenty minutes saw heroic defence from imperial, man of the match Chris McGeough putting in a couple of noteworthy big hits. The poor conditions meant a lot scrums and the back row players, Jack Flanagan, Jon Hardisty and Olisa Ufodiama, did extremely well to keep the St Marys number eight from gaining anything off the back of them. As the Imperial line held strong, it wasn’t long before the frustration caused St Mary’s to force one pass too many, resulting in a knock on. Good scrummaging from Simon Fenton and James Scaife gave a good platform for scrum half Olly Cox to ease the pressure. With full time approaching, St Mary’s were giving it everything. Such were defensive efforts required; even James Hayward and George Lane were seen to experience some hard forward graft. In the final play of the game St Mary’s were awarded a soft penalty try as a consolation. The final score was 12-10. This capped a great season for Imperial Rugby 1st XV winning their league with a game to spare. They will be tested next year in South Premier B! This performance sets up an exciting fixture next week against Imperial Medicals at Varsity, please come down and support your team!