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SOAS 1st XV 34 – 27 Imperial 3rd XV, 10/10/18

Arriving with a squad of 19 to Regent’s park, and conditions looking ideal for a game of running rugby, the stage was set for what promised to be a tough first game against a rather unknown SOAS 1st XV.

As SOAS went through phases following kick off, Imperial’s defence was proving difficult to break down thanks to the focus on defensive structure in training last Saturday and Monday. Following a turnover, it was Imperials turn to attack, utilising strong carries off 9 before moving the ball wide with success. It was scrum-half Shuya who finished for the first five points of the game. Shuya had an overall solid game, demonstrating his attacking flair that will no doubt be an asset this season.

Imperial doubled their lead when Thornton scored a magical try. A crash ball off nine with nothing really on. A player who can create something out of nothing, he blasted through the first line of defence like the defenders were cardboard cut-outs. Stepping the full back with such elegance isn’t a skill you can teach – it’s something you’re born with. This gave Simon the space to exhibit his electric speed, darting for the line. The SOAS defenders caught up to him but they were no match for the superhuman power of Thornton, who carried three of them over the line with him; an exceptional individual try.

ICURFC later found themselves under pressure within their own 22. Following a strong defensive effort and a turnover, Marco cleared. The chase was strong and Will Ridge turned over their isolated full back. After a couple of phases, it was Ridge who finished the move; however referee Matt Blackett disallowed the try. After a few forced injuries (including the captain) and many tired legs, the final ten minutes of the half were a test of fitness and squad cohesion. SOAS capitalised and pulled one back, making it 10-5 at the break (I think).

After SOAS took the lead early in the second half with a converted try, Imperial found themselves back on the front foot. The ball went out to the backs and after some silky handling; Tom Watson used his pace to round the defence and finish well under the posts. Marco, who later punched SOAS’s very own Nish Khumar, converted for the extras, 17-12.

SOAS were struggling to defend against the strong ball carries from the likes of Ed Peterson, James King and Si-Woo, but managed to level the scoring with a breakaway try. Following a scrum inside the SOAS 22, a number 8 pickup saw Thornton clear the line for his second try of the afternoon. I won’t go into too much detail but it was as amazing as his first.

With a fully drained bench as a result of injury, tired legs showed for Imperial, with SOAS scoring a few more towards the end of the second half. I’m told the final score was 34-27 in favour of the home side. Based on the final score, it’s clear someone else scored a try at some point during the match though I can’t remember who and they didn’t claim it when the 3’s group chat was consulted.

There were plenty of positives to take away from Wednesday’s game and it promises to be a good season for this group of players. If we all keep the effort up in training we will be where we want to be in no time.

Simon “Borg” Thornton, 3rd XV

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