The City Varsity™ II, held last Friday at Rosslyn Park, was the second annual varsity match between Imperial College London and London School of Economics. This promised to be an exciting match and, after months of hype, lived up to expectations. The match kicked off and immediately proved to be a very physical game, with big collisions coming in from both sides. Early pressure and a dominant pack from Imperial led to LSE making mistakes, giving Imperial the chance to counterattack a couple of times. Perhaps too eager to stop LSE behind the game line in defence, Imperial gave away a penalty for offside and allowed LSE’s kicker to make the score 0-3.
After the restart, a turnover from LSE in midfield allowed them to attack down the left wing. Imperial held LSE off for many phases, but quick recycling of the ball and a missed tackle from Imperial allowed LSE to score under the posts. Imperial were down 0-10 early in the game. Imperial responded strongly and started attacking out wide through Oliver Duffy, Kieran McMorran and Hugo Koide. McMorran was stopped just short of the line, only for Jerome Hallett to bundle over in the next phase for a try. James Field successfully converted from afar, using the wind to curl the ball between the uprights – his hard work during Harry Allingham’s free kicking lessons clearly paying off. 7-10 to LSE at half time.
Imperial began the second half determined to score first and take control of the match. Weak penalties from Imperial allowed LSE to exert some attacking pressure and they were soon awarded a penalty deep in the Imperial half. This was kicked to make the score 7-13. Field made the kick off contestable, but a mistimed tackle in the air from Will Ainsley resulted in him being sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes to contemplate his actions. Imperial did not let their heads drop and gave everything in defence, with the usual suspects Martin Head and Toby Daniels making lots of tackles.
Reckless Ainsley was eventually, reluctantly, invited back onto the pitch by the referee and Imperial were back to 15 men. This was an opportunity to get back into the game, and quick play between the forwards gave Imperial attacking territory. Field broke LSE’s line and attempted to offload to Nick Ustaran-Anderegg (who would definitely have outpaced the fullback and scored), but alas this was intercepted. Imperial scrambled in defence as LSE counterattacked and prevented them from scoring. Keen to uphold his bad boy reputation and frustrated after losing the Union Presidency Election earlier that evening, Oliver Duffy put his hands in a ruck and was presented with a yellow card by the referee. LSE kicked the penalty to make the score 7-16.
Scrum half Elliot Quigley and prop Amin Omarouayache were brought on to open up the game more in attack. Imperial now started to look more threatening and a 30m break from Quigley almost resulted in a try. Now back on the pitch, Duffy showed everyone what Imperial had been missing by beating his man on the outside… and then kicking the ball straight into touch. Despite leaving everything on the pitch, Imperial’s efforts did not eventually materialise into points, and the match ended 7-16 with LSE crowned champions of The City Varsity™ II.
Thank you to everyone who was involved organising and/or running The City Varsity™ II, we could not have done it without you.