Imperial travelled to Royal Holloway on Wednesday to start what they hoped would be a long cup run culminating in some silverware. Falling on Remembrance Day and being followed by the club curry night, there was a lot to play for to ensure that IC got back on track after an unmentionable loss to the medics the week before.
Arriving at the venue to discover that the game would be played on a 3G pitch, Coach Rich’s rousing prematch speech dispelled any notion that this was in any way an excuse, and saw IC make a solid start to the game, dominating possession and creating opportunities early on. However, a lack of clinical finishing saw the scoreline remain static until sloppy play at the breakdown saw a penalty go Holloway’s way just inside IC’s half. This saw their one-trick pony of a fly-half step up and unleash his potent kicking ability to put Holloway ahead.
Remaining calm, Imperial responded instantly from the kick off, securing possession straight from the restart through great pressure from Alex Clayton and Hugh Wilman. This lead to a lineout fifteen metres out from the as-of-yet-unbreached opposition try line. This called for the big guns to come out, and the resulting move was sweeter than the sweetest of Peshwaris; slick hands from the dummy mall saw a barrelling run off the peel to finally wreck the virginity of the opposition line which had maintained abstinence for far too long. With the conversion going wayward, at 5-3 the game remained tighter than the average Alex Calyton gym top; apparently Mothercare make workout clothes now.
Due to this, IC continued in the same spirit as before, with centres Chris MacBeth and Sam Moorby’s hard lines off Charles Prince-Smith punching regular holes in the defence. Thanks to the unison of the forward pods the team trundled up the pitch and set the stage for Moorby finished off a long set of phases by blasting through a “Receding” Holoway defence to dot down over the line. Extras added by CPS, Imperial seemed in control. However, a late Holloway penalty saw them stay within a converted try as half time came with IC leading 12-6.
However, even with the game going to plan, as they say “It’s never over until the fat lady sings”, and it seems that the mellifluous old gal had only begun warming up her vocal chords. Holloway came out guns blazing in the second half, and capitalised on some missed tackles to score under the posts and take a slender one-point lead. Aware that they couldn’t allow the game to slip away, IC knew that a madrastic change was needed, resulting in local wasteman ‘Harry Styles fresher’ being brought on at scrum half. However, the One Direction IC were headed was backwards, as a messy turnover at the scrum saw Holloway run in a breakaway try to extend their lead to a dangerous eight points.
Imperial’s frustration was beginning to overflow, which became apparent in the next phase as Russian fresher Ali Zaboronsky, probably still fuming from his country’s exclusion from the Olympics, tackled an opposition player clearly still in the air from the restart. This resulted in an untimely 10 minute sin bin as well as being awarded DotD. With things seemingly going
from bad to worse, IC captain Dave Nielson-Scott rallied the team with a series of hard-hitting runs, bhajiing through the Holloway line and bouncing the biggest plum-pudding of a player ever to set foot on a rugby field.
With the sin-bin period expiring and no more points conceded, Imperial started stringing together good phases of play, and edged ever closer to scoring a try which would put them within a score of Holloway. Yet, as time ticked on, the scoreline didn’t alter, long phase plays and well-formulated attacks all succumbing to silly errors.
A sense of inevitability gripped the team as they ruminated the thought of defeat. Just as the heavenly embrace of Naan was coming; a cruel twist of fate saw a rare Holloway foray into IC territory see uncharacteristic errors creep into Imperial’s defence. Shortly afterwards insult was added to injury as Holloway sent their winger over in the corner to round off a 25-12 upset. Hearts broken and prides bruised, IC need to recover, Tikka good long look at themselves and bounce back next week in the league to get their season back on track.