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Imperial 1st XV 21 - 5 University of Kent 1st XV , 21/11/2018

The 1st XV went into this round of 16 cup match knowing that the game came at a pivotal point in the season. With this in mind, the team made their way to fortress Harlington eager to turn the season around and start off their cup run with a statement that we’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over.

The match started off with high intensity from both sides wanting to make a mark. Alex Amato showed his flair as he gassed his way around Kent’s defence, only to be on the end of a high tackle which robbed him of a try, resulting in a yellow card for Kent.

After strong carries up the field, Kent conceded a penalty 5m out from their try-line. The forwards set up and El Capitano Ali Zaboronsky bundled over the line to score Imperial’s first try. This was converted, putting Imperial ahead 7-0.

With pressure building from Kent, the last 5 mins of 1st half approached. Kent won a lineout 5m out from our try-line and decided to maul, which was successfully repelled by the forwards with Jerome Hallett securing the turnover. Unfortunately for Imperial, we lost the following scrum as the ball bounced out. Kent saw an opportunity to reverse the attack direction and found space on the wing to score just before the halftime, leaving the score at 7-5 to Imperial.

At halftime the team knew that momentum was with us, but like with too many times before knew we had to step up a gear to avoid losing. Ali asked the boys who had made a big hit yet that game, and with only a few hands in the air we knew we had to go out firing. With this in mind, straight from the kickoff the team raced up to pressure the catch. With the words of Ali echoing, with a big flex-ah Leo Giustiniani read their move and charged up to make a monster hit. The words of Ali were interpreted slightly differently by silly frosher Animesh, who decided making a big hit meant getting into a shoving match with his opposite number off the ball, which saw him earning not only a yellow card but also dick of the day in one stroke.

With pressure building from Kent, the 1s were determined not to allow their defence to be broken down again. One breakaway run was stopped at the last moment as Leo made a superb tackle, denying Ifan his one opportunity of the game to make a tackle. Wheaton was turning over rucks, Valerio and Daniel Kirraniel were hitting the exits well, and fresher little dish was successfully throwing the lineouts. The long hours spent on exit plays and the early tuesday morning lineout sessions showed to payoff.

Still, a stalemate was forming. Noticing that the Kent defence were drifting heavily, Jerome cut a line inside Kirrane, who with a no-look pass put him through a gap. Galloping through, it became a two on one with the fullback, who fell for the dummy pass allowing Jerome to score Imperial’s second try of the game. With a successful conversion, this put Imperial further ahead to 14-5.

The momentum was firmly with Imperial now. Kent conceded another yellow card with a dodgy dump tackle on fresher curtains. The penalty was kicked deep into Kent’s 22, which Imperial capitalised on by mauling the lineout with 2nd XV Captain Sochi scoring on his debut for Imperial’s third try. With Kirrane slotting his third conversion of the day, the score went 21-5 to Imperial.

Imperial came close to scoring at other points too. Leo - with the hands of a digital clock - dropped the ball after running through a gap, Jerome had the ball ripped just before the line, and another where Kirrane grubbered the ball despite there being no defenders between him and the try-line and got held up over the line. Better luck next time lads.

A big shout out to the freshers and also all of the players who stepped up and made their debuts for the 1s this game - this will be a memorable first Sylvia with the 1st XV! (Sorry Elliot, Duffy and Amin) With an important victory under the belt, Imperial 1s look forward to building on this moving onto the quarter finals of the cup.

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