Men’s 1st XV Rugby win away to Loughborough

Before this season, Warwick had never beaten a Loughborough side, but having secured a famous 12-10 victory in the home fixture before Christmas, the first team travelled to Loughborough, hopeful of being the first Warwick Rugby side ever to win a game at Loughborough.

Despite a disrupted build up to the game, Warwick made a positive start and Mauritius International fly-half Dominique Rey soon scored a penalty to give the team an early 3-0 lead.

Once in front, Warwick continued to pin their hosts back inside their own twenty-two metre line. They were rewarded when a well-worked rolling maul allowed Scottish flanker Hugo Lough to score a try and extend the lead to 8-0. Warwick were further rewarded for their impressive first-half performance when Rey kicked another penalty.

At 11-0 up at half time, coach Rob Calloway and captain Conor Hatton’s half time team talk emphasised the need to avoid giving away penalties. However, within moments of the restart, Hatton conceded a penalty and the many of his team-mates soon followed suit. The high penalty count allowed Loughborough to achieve a territorial advantage, yet due to the profligacy of their goal kicker, who missed five penalty attempts, they were unable make an impact on the score board.

When Warwick did eventually gain possession, centre Mark Arrowsmith charged up the pitch with a driving run, laying the foundations for a period of sustained Warwick pressure in the home side’s half. Following five to ten minutes of excellent phase play, Warwick eventually crossed the line through the unexpected figure of Chris Wombell. After playing first team Rugby for all of his three years at university, Wombell finally scored his first try for the club (at this point it should be pointed out that he was erroneously credited with a try earlier this season when the actual try scorer was the far more prolific James Phylip-Jones).

At 16-0 up Warwick should have been able to close out the game, but made life difficult for themselves by soon conceding a try and penalty which reduced the deficit to 16-8. Yet rather than being betrayed by their nerves, Warwick controlled the final stages of the game and completed a historic double over the Loughborough third team.

The win took Warwick back to the top of the Midlands 1A league ahead of next week’s double header against fellow promotion hopefuls Harper Adams and the Nottingham Trent 2nd XV.

Meanwhile the second and third teams got their promotion challenges back on track following defeats in their previous fixtures. The second team faced a tricky fixture against Staffordshire but got off to a perfect start when Josh Dowling-Kennedy, banished back to the second team following his indiscretions at the end of last term, scored an interception try. A Dan Edwards penalty was the only further reward Warwick got for a dominant first-half performance. Edwards’ performance was erratic as some excellent play was mixed with some rather bizarre failed attempts to add some flair to the team.

This failure to build a substantial first half lead became a concern, when Staffordshire scored an early second-half try and their flanker miraculously converted it from the touchline. However, his kicking form soon deserted him when he fluffed a simple kick in front of the posts to bring the scores level.

Warwick finally reasserted themselves as full back Charlie Johnson intercepted the ball and used his pace to move within two metres of the Stafford line before being caught. Fortunately, his good work was not undone as captain Jamie Fenton and his fellow forwards expertly recycled the ball, to enable winger George Irwin to score a victory-sealing try in the corner. The 15-8 success stretched Warwick’s lead in BUCS Midlands 2A league to six points and was a welcome return to form.

The third team beat bottom-of-the-table UC Birmingham 29-7 to consolidate their second place in the BUCS Midlands 3A league. The team never hit the heights of their pre-Christmas performances, but two tries from Phil Ackroyd and a try apiece from Luke Blease, Anthony Fish and Jake Douglas were sufficient to achieve victory.

Unfortunately, the victory was marred by a horror tackle from fly half Pav Harnal, who up-ended an opposition centre in Bradley Davies fashion. He was fortunate to escape with a yellow card, but it is now hoped that he too isn’t cited and appropriately banned.

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