Rugby League – Match Preview
25th February 2010
Sunday 28th February is not only the day of the Carling Cup Final, but also sees ‘The 2010 C.R.Y. Varsity Series’ reach the 4th event out of ten, with Uni currently leading their local rivals Trent by 2-1. This game is obviously vital so early on in the series with the scores closely poised, but holds extra resonance with a ten-day break before netball on March 10th. A 3-1 Uni lead going into this rest period would be a huge confidence boost, but if Trent were to tie the series at 2-2 then we would be right back at square one.
Who, then, is the favourite to bring home the rugby bacon? With a Trent victory last year, they will no doubt fancy themselves again 12 months down the line, looking to build on the 18-10 victory and make it two rugby league wins in a row. Uni, however, will have different ideas; looking to build on a season that has seen vast improvements for the club, they will be desperate to avenge last year’s narrow defeat in torrential rain and swirling winds.
Uni go into Varsity on the back of a decent season. Finishing 2nd in the league, they boast a 5-1-4 record; with their biggest victory a 48-0 crushing of UWIC Mens 1st team at Highfields. This also includes a home victory against league champions Loughborough, and Uni will no doubt be hoping this form stays with them right up until their most important match of the season. Under full-time coach Martyn Rothwell, they have prepared vigorously for this fixture, holding fourteen training sessions as well as two matches throughout February to get them in top shape for the encounter at Lady Bay.
Whilst Uni have suffered big defeats this year, such as an 18-46 drubbing away to Exeter 1st team, it is important that they reflect upon the positives that have seen them reach new heights as they look to take the rugby league crown back to “Beeston”.
Trent meanwhile have been going about their business with some degree of conviction too. Due to the lack of an updated BUCS website- check it out for yourself to share my annoyance- I cannot see the result of Trent’s final league game of the season. As it stands online, they are 3rd in their league having played 9 games with a healthy 5-0-2 record. Big victories away at Warwick and Coventry (it seems they enjoy travelling to the West Midlands) of 50-8 and 56-14 respectively, and only small defeats of 16-21 and 24-28 show that Trent are also in fine form and will certainly feel confident of equalling the series.
Uni’s star-man, left-winger Jamie Henderson, aims to spoil the Trent party though, hoping they will be drinking their sorrows rather than in celebration come Sunday evening. Present in the Uni victory of 2008, he believes Uni need to “keep it calm and simple and not get excited” to bring home victory, and with 10 tries in just 5 appearances this season, he has a reason to be confident.
Another to watch is Ollie Beech, a Fresher who finds himself playing hooker in his first season of rugby league. No doubt his parents will be cheering him on (hopefully they will keep in touch via URN live text updates) for a big performance, but a big game is needed most of all from Uni skipper Tom Cliffe. Playing at stand-off, Cliffe is an influential player for the team, and with a cool head on experienced shoulders, he is key to Uni’s performance. Describing it as “an honour to lead the lads out”, he cordially invites you all for “a smash up at The Bag” if, actually when, Uni win.
One can be forgiven for thinking that a series victory in Varsity over your local neighbours means more than the University’s rank in The Times Good University Guide, and with a Uni victory on Sunday, I can’t help but feel that the series victory is all but confirmed.
The C.R.Y. 2010 Rugby League Varsity Match is on Sunday 28th February at Lady Bay Arena. Kick-off is at 3pm. Suggested donation on the door with all proceeds going to Cardiac Risk in the Young, the official Varsity charity. If you can’t make it to the venue, then you can stay in touch via the website at urn.1350.net/varsity.
by Sam Edwards