University of the Creative Arts 1st XV 18 - 26 Imperial College 3rd XV
On a cold but sunny day the fearsome Imperial College 3rd XV travelled deep into the depths of Surrey for a fixture against the acclaimed University of the Creative Arts (UCA). After 2 wrongly disallowed tries resulted in defeat last year, the team was looking for blood. Arriving with 2 hours to spare the players got in a few last minute preparations, perfecting set pieces and providing last minute training to Luke “Shrig Sec” Lombardo in the ever feared art of front rowing.
The game got off to a quick start. The opening exchanges took place within the Imperial twenty-two, and on a slightly smaller than normal pitch every metre counted. Some strong defensive work from the forwards prevented the UCA pack from making precious ground, however some sloppy mistakes provided UCA with an easy penalty. The kick fell short, however centre Colin “not so hulk” Mathews suffered a momentary brainfreeze- rather than catching the ball and clearing it, the Belfast man attempted a Zidane-esque volley. His horrible slice led to the ball speeding over the dead ball line gifting the opposition a 5m scrum.
The luck of the 3rd XV never ceases to amaze, as a second penalty miraculously missed the uprights before the referee disallowed a try as UCA broke away from the scrum. A team huddle was called by Skipper and Crofters enthusiast Luke Armitage in which the squad regathered and restructured. After the kick off Imperial put the pedal to the metal maintaining possession through a series of controlled phases, which soon lead to a breakaway try from a member of the old guard, Tom Brick. A missed kick from Alex Leonard left the 3rd XV in the lead 0 - 5.
Not content with just the one try, Imperial kept the pressure up. Powering through the opposition forwards and dominating in almost every aspect, Imperial turned over ball at both scrum and lineout. UCA could only hold out for so long before Alex Leonard seized an interception and top try scorer Jono Stancombe finished the move, poaching the try in traditional fashion. Leonard slotted an immaculate kick straight down the centre of the posts to put Imperial firmly in the driving seat at 0 - 12.
After this good fortune a little sloppiness crept into the defence again. Imperial conceded more penalties around the breakdown, and the momentum change eventually led to two things. Merlin Potter-Adams, tired of all the wizard jokes, decided to suffer a comical double leg cramp and assumed a permanent squatting position in the middle of the pitch. After Merlin insisted on being carried off the pitch, the strong UCA forward pack took advantage of Imperial’s loss of focus and powered through to score a try. A missed conversion left the score at 8 - 12.
Imperial’s superior fitness was visible and the away side began to dominate, eventually getting a scrum 10 metres from the UCA line. The IC pack performed admirably as they shoved the scrum to within 5 meters of the try line. Specialist Number 8 George Birch combined with Luke Armitage, who gave a stunning offload out of the tackle to Richard “fightstarter” Fish. The evasive Fish touched down and Leonard once again converted the try. The half time whistle went with the score at 8 - 19.
Half-time: University of the Creative Arts 1st XV 8 - 19 Imperial College 3rd XV
Both teams kept the ball in tight, resulting in a stalemate for the first 10 minutes of the second half. The drudgery was torn apart by Imperial winger Ikenna who used his lightning pace to break the UCA line and score a fantastic solo try. Leonard again converted to take the score to 8 - 26.
Unfortunately complacency crept in and a combination of poor discipline and weak defence allowed UCA to score two quick tries in reply. UCA were suddenly back in the game at 18 - 26, at which point a disgruntled Luke James performed a questionable dump tackle and was given 10 minutes in the sin bin for his efforts.
Tempers began to rise on both sides, and Richard Fish joined Luke in the sin bin after blindsiding an opposition player nowhere near the ruck. His shoulder hit into the innocent UCA player was seen by the referee who dismissed him without argument. In the same action our Social Sec Lombardo received a cut to the eye and was substituted off with a small amount of blood and a large amount of noise.
In the final minutes Imperial rallied again and Armitage came close to scoring yet another try. It was not to be, as a feisty UCA player decided to go outside the laws to prevent him and was sin-binned for foul play. Full time was called with the final score of 18 - 26. Overall the Imperial forwards proved superior in every aspect, and some great backs play and huge tackling from Man of the Match Alex Ruffman helped the 3rd XV achieve a great result.