Reading 1st XV 12 - 14 Imperial College 1st XV
Imperial 1st XV took a solid initial step to safety with a narrow victory away at Reading in the first game back since the infamous ban. To escape relegation 25 points were needed to makeup the gap to Brunel, and only 8 games to do it. Each game left is a must win for IC.
Exams took away a number of senior players, leaving a very fresh looking IC team (only five 1st XV players from last year in the squad, as well as a number of full 1st team debuts) to travel down to Reading Sports Park. However it was the experience in the half-back department of Messrs Cox and Durkin who cranked up the intensity, coupled with numerous backline breaks from Chris Macbeth and Charlie Corbett, to destroy the home side in the opening stages. Corbett was the first to go over, with a darting run that saw him elude a number of tackles before crossing in the corner, with Cox slotting an excellent conversion from out wide. Good pressure in defence, including a big hit from none other than blood sub Will Taylor lead to a turnover and quick hands through the backline allowed Antony Cheuk to stroll in outside a disorganised defence to score on debut to double the lead.
Two months out of training began to show, with all 15 players blowing hard. This did not stop anyone from putting their bodies on the line, and each Reading charge was met with a meaty munch from a navy shirt. Just before the break, a scrum on the Imperial line went down one time too many and the ref awarded Reading a penalty try, with the conversion leaving the score 7 - 14 at half time in Imperial’s favour.
Half-time: Reading 1st XV 7 - 14 Imperial College 1st XV
The second half continued in the same vein, with Reading dominating possession and the set piece, but not making much away against solid defence. The odd time Imperial got the ball they looked very dangerous, with Alex Hawking in particular counter attacking with purpose. Durkin, ever the protagonist, decided to question the ref, earning him a yellow card. This left IC a man down for the last ten minutes. Gavin Roberts came on as a like for like replacement for the energetic Durkin, but this left a hole on the right wing. An interception with less than ten minutes to go left the Reading second row to gallop down the wing, David Nielsen-Scott heroically covered from the far wing to haul him down two metres short of the line. Imperial never managed to get off their line, and Reading squeezed over in the last play of the game. A successful conversion would have levelled the game, but the sight of 15 ugly faces bearing down on him was enough to put off the Reading kicker, and the points were all brought back to South Kensington with the final score 12 - 14.