Imperial College 1st XV 39 - 5 Imperial Medics 1st XV
IC vs. ICSM has long been a feisty encounter, especially 2 weeks before Varsity, both teams eager to claim the mental boost that comes with winning. Fortress Harlington provided ideal conditions for a running game of rugby, yet another reason why this was set to be a good match.
The medics were nowhere to be seen for the first 20 minutes, an early penalty for IC got the score board moving the right way. Shortly after, a strong “Sonny Bill” from Skipper Cox allowed Moorby to make an excellent line break down the left hand side, finally stepping in towards the posts to force the 2-on-1 with Durkin on his inside. Terrible butterfingers meant Durkin dropped the ball over the line, luckily for IC the pack was on top. The ensuing scrum allowed Durkin to make amends by stealing the ball and dotting it down under the posts. Cox with the extras. 10 - 0.
Almost immediately after the restart, excellent phase work from Imperial led to Cox bringing the backs down the blind side and making a half break. Again excellent offloading to Moorby gave him an unmarked run in from the medic 10-metre line. 17 - 0.
A monster restart from Cox forced the error from the medic full back, knocking the ball into touch just outside their 22. A big lineout followed with College winning the ball. The phase play was at too high of a tempo for the defence to deal with. Durkin subsequently put Hedley in from close quarters for another try out wide. 22 - 0.
The next 10 minutes of the game saw the medics win back the restart and put considerable pressure on the IC line. Excellent breakdown work from Michael “worse twin” Radigan forced the turnover and saw College win back the ball. Good exit strategy saw IC back in the medic’s 22 from another excellent kick by Cox. The chase meant that the medics were kept in their 22 and their slow phase game meant that the IC defence had plenty of time to reset. This finally resulted in the medic flanker being bundled into touch 8 metres out.
One thing was inevitable; the College maul is unstoppable from that kind of distance. A maul that could only be described as clinical, classy and “unsuitable for minors” was formed leaving the medic pack trailing in their wake and seeing Hedley dot down for his brace.
Half-time: Imperial 1st XV 27 - 0 Imperial Medics 1st XV
Nobody was ready for what happened almost directly after half-time. IC’s very own resident “lion wrestler” Tom Hedley received the ball on the IC 22, preceded to step both their winger and 13 back inside, followed by a huge fend on the medic 10 on the halfway line. Carnage. He then took the outside line, breaking 3 more tackles, with only 40 metres and the opposition fullback left. He turned on the afterburners to outpace the last man and touch down under the posts to complete his hat trick. Insanity. It was a try that Billy Vunipola could only dream of scoring. If only Stuart Lancaster had seen it, I am convinced Hedley would have been fast tracked to starting for England this weekend. No conversion, again. 32 - 0.
It looked like the game could have descended into a farcical score, when soon after the restart patient play through 12 phases saw a sublime 25 metre pass from “wide boy” Durkin, putting Moorby over the white line. 39 - 0.
From there on, the medics enjoyed a high percentage of possession. IC’s defence was excellent for the most part of it, but they did allow the medics to build a solid maul and break down the blindside to score from close quarters.
In summary, a good first half from IC, but apart from two moments of magic a very scrappy second. Big statement of intent before varsity, and had College stayed at that intensity for the full 80 it could have been even more of a cricket score.
A special mention must go to Josh “head in the clouds” O’Donnell who at one point had a 40 metre free run in down the wing, however decided to try and step inside some invisible opposition, ending up running into real opposition.