UCL 3rd XV 42 - 12 Imperial 3rd XV
Playing for the first time as the newly branded Imperial 6th XV, ICURFC’s 3rd team made a slow start to the season suffering defeat at the hands of an organised UCL outfit.
Scoring from their first attack of the game, UCL immediately put Imperial on the back foot with strong running and good link play. Despite brave defence the pressure did not let up and Imperial went into half time four tries down.
Putting the result out of mind, Imperial refocused in the second half and with the help of senior players coming off the bench produced a much improved performance. Organisation and discipline paid off as Imperial scored twice late in the game and at the final whistle left the field in positive spirits.
Following this summer’s BUCS ruling that forced the merger in name of Imperial and the Medics, Imperial College 3rd XV arrived at Shenley Sports ground in their new guise as Imperial 6th XV slightly before the monstrous convoy of UCL coaches.
The Imperial line-up featured many fresh faces, all keen to prove their credentials. After a warm up led by new captain Luke ‘The Angel of the North’ Armitage and part time rugby coach/full time Techtonic crooner James Hayward the game started. Imperial kicked off but almost straight away were on the back foot. UCL made around 40 yards, and after some savvy offloads scored their first try. The Imperial back line was slightly overwhelmed by the strong running of the huge centres who looked capable of playing higher level rugby. The first half was a generally disappointing encounter for Imperial, with UCL running in 3 more tries to leave the score 26 - 0.
Half-time: UCL 3rd XV 26 - 12 Imperial 3rd XV
At half time some impact substitutions were made, with the chemical (engineering) brothers themselves- ‘flair pair’ Colin Matthews and Alex Ruffman- coming on in the centres to give some much needed experience and attacking beef. The Imperial game started to improve, but UCL managed to score again.
With heads going down, singer/songwriter Hayward stepped in with some rousing words and stirred the boys up for a final push. Prop Hugh MacKinnon had to come off injured, forcing disgruntled Italian bus driver Edoardo ‘Bunga Bunga’ Cavallazzi to come on as a replacement loosehead, despite his pre-game declaration to his captain that if he were forced to play in the front row he would resign.
The forwards pulled together and started to play the famous ‘Imperial Pattern’ making full use of the pitch. After some clever kicks from fly-half Alex Leonard, Imperial found themselves inside the UCL 22m line. Many strong phases of traditional forwards rugby later, a ruck formed close to the UCL try line. A crash ball from Jasper popped by the ‘short controller’ Luke Armitage was enough to send UCL defenders flying and Jasper touched down. With spirits visibly lifted Imperial gave everything in their power to not concede any more points and pushed to scored again. Some minutes later IC constructed a rolling mall very near to the UCL try line, and unsurprisingly found Jonno ‘top scorer’ Stancombe holding onto the ball like a bear to honey at the back. As he has done so often for Imperial 3rd XV, Jonno spotted the big white line, and made a dive for it, putting the ball safely on the floor. Leonard slotted the conversion, leaving the final score 42 - 12.
An unfortunate result to open the season but with plenty to build on, Geordie Captain Armitage congratulated the team on a ‘canny decent’ performance. Special thanks to all the freshers, including debut flanker and man of the match Yix Lin.