Brighton 1st XV 0 - 38 Imperial 1st XV
It has been well over 8 weeks since ICURFC have taken the field. This winter the bitter English weather has been brutal but this gave the team time to heal up and, in some cases, fatten up. A very strong squad took the two hour trip to Eastbourne, home of sun seeking pensioners and apparently Brighton rugby. We travelled through rain and snow to be greeted by a pitch that had seen better days.
Keen to avoid the arctic temperature we ran out for only a quick warm up. Although Brighton play in the league below they had beaten table topping St Barts meaning they were not to be underestimated.
Captain Jack, returning after injuring his ankle earlier the season, gave one of his inspiring team talks punctuated with blood curdling screams of ‘This is Sparta’.
George Lane kicked off the game and the team got off to a great start with strong tackling leading to a penalty. This dominance continued for the next four minutes where we saw the first yellow of the game. Toby Spittle’s jovial behaviour around the breakdown landed him with a well deserved, albeit poor, headbutt, giving the Brighton loose head a much needed 10 minute breather. His claims of vengeance left Toby quaking in his boots. The resulting penalty left Imperial with a line out on the opposition 22. A well executed line out lead to an unstoppable maul, where the pack jogged to the line leaving Michael ‘Maurice’ O’Connell an easy finish. George Lane converted from the touch line to make it 0 - 7. As the temperature dropped we could see the opposition struggling and Captain Jack capitalised with a strong ten metre juggernaut through the opposition line. A fluffed conversion left us 12 points clear. Keeping up the pressure, Imperial earned a 5 metre scrum just minutes later, and an already tired Jon ‘Team Talk’ Hardisty picked and popped to man of the match Scott Fraser who made a slick pass to Nathan ‘Brucie’ Fitzpatrick leaving him with a simple finish. After a quick kick return, IC again found themselves within touching distance of the Brighton line.
However, after a taste of glory, Nathan got greedy and decided to leach onto the back of a rolling maul and claims to have scored the fourth try of the match. Another quality strike from George Lane led to a missed conversion leaving the score 0 - 22 at half time.
Half-time: Brighton 1st XV 0 - 22 Imperial 1st XV
Despite the domination Imperial showed in the first half, the team knew they had to raise their game in the second half in order to deliver the performance they knew they were capable of. Impact subs included Pierre “Gross” L’Bour who replaced Tom “lean mean one-fifteen” Hansen who had made a slightly above average contribution in the first half. The second half started with Imperial now playing up-hill, but determined to maintain their clean sheet. After a lengthy exchange of tactical kicks from both teams, ending with a sliced clearance kick from Scotty ‘Too Hotty’ Fraser, prompting jeers from the spectators and resulting in Brighton putting much of the pressure on Imperial. After winning a penalty after a huge defensive performance Imperial found themselves with a line out 35m from the opponents try line and again the maul was called upon. Imperial nailed another line out and had the maul going forward; time after time the forwards hit the maul forcing the Brighton pack into a fast retreat. An awesome surge of power from Imperial propelled the maul into the 22 and eventually over the line for impact sub L’Bour, who was already pumped from the “cafe” from his thermos, to complete a devastating display of dominance from the Imperial pack to extend the lead to 0 - 27.
Brighton’s kick off preceded another spell of pressure from them. Although Imperial’s discipline was hurting them it was made up by relentless tackling. Eventually a turnover was forced and a box kick from Scott Fraser was recovered by Brucie and again Imperial found themselves in Brighton’s half. Imperial applied pressure and found themselves once again inside the 22 setting J Flan up for a carbon copy of his first try as he thrust once again through the Brighton defence. Notable mentions must also go to “massive” Mike O’Connell for looking like he was mounting a horse and for Big George Lane’s first ever low tackle. A satisfied but not ecstatic Imperial left the field happy with the win but knowing improvements need to be made. The major achievement was managing to finish with a nil score (0 - 38) against a team that put 2 tries past the Medics… Bring on Varsity.