Loughborough University 24 – 38 GB Police
By Richard Oxley, at Loughborough University, Sunday
The first round of the 2014 Tetley’s Challenge Cup saw Great Britain Police make the journey along the M1 to the unrivalled sporting facilities of Loughborough University, who, boasting an unblemished 2013/14 BUCS record, were in a confident mood.
GB Police coach, Mark Robinson, called for his players to do the simple things well, to be disciplined, work hard in defence with numbers in the tackle and to communicate effectively with the mindset of internationals for the full 80 minutes.
As the whistle went in the welcome sunshine, the two teams set about softening each other up with thundering shots from the likes of the veteran Phil Chappell, the non-stop Paul Hughes and the debutant Rhys Davies.
No-one could have predicted what was to come in the next 30 minutes, as a combination of enthusiasm in both attack and defence saw GB Police run in 34 unanswered points.
The first points came on the back of sustained pressure by the Police pinning the Students in their own twenty which led to a one on one ball steal by the towering prop Austen Thompson allowing him to race to the line to score under the posts. Newton added the conversion.
The platform for the next was laid by solid drives by the forwards allowing Newton in his new loose forward role, to find the impressive Clemie on his inside shoulder who sliced through the gap, drew the full back and found Hughes in support, who showed a fine turn of pace to score.
The Police were in full flow now and the Students’ frustration was evident as discipline failed them. The third try came on the back of one such penalty, when the Police stretched their opponents defence in the left corner. In the blink of an eye the ball was whipped from Cowling to Clemie who put Stringer into the hole who in turn found Sheffield powering onto the ball to dive over in the right corner.
LSRL simply couldn’t find an answer to the wave after wave of attacks from the GB Police and it wasn’t long before the fullback Clemie was at it again as he cut through the defence on the left edge to offload to Birch who was too strong in the tackle and provided the in form centre Murphy with the easiest of stroll overs in the left corner.
Newton’s towering touch line conversion added the extras.
Giant second rower Southwell was now hitting the straps out wide on the left with the LSRL defence finding him more than a handful.
Indeed, he crossed for the next two tries, the first following a scything run from tricky stand-off Heeley. From the play the ball Hughes teased the defensive line to unleash Southwell on a trademark run to carry three defenders over the line with him. His second came from a clever kick to the line by Newton, the onrushing Birch applying the pressure to see the ball spilled over the line allowing Southwell to pounce on the ball to score.
Newton again slotted both goals from out wide.
Loughborough finished the half the stronger though and were the next to score when, pinned on their own line, scrum-half Brener latched onto a loose pass by his opposite number Cowling and raced the full length to score under the posts and even found the breath to add the two to his own try.
That was the last scoring action of a dominant first half for the Police that saw them go into the break 6-34 up.
Loughborough started the second half as they left off in the first applying pressure on the Police line and were the first to score with a kick from the lively Brener bouncing up and falling kindly into Carmody’s hands to fall over the line to the left of the posts.
Back came GB Police with the likes of Rotherham and Long finding inroads into the LSRL half. From an attacking scrum, Cowling found the man of the match Clemie coming round the back of the scrum on the arc and offloaded in the tackle to find Sheffield on his shoulder to score on the right.
Next came a spell where the defences of both teams were on top with the Police emptying their bench giving the likes of Rowland and Finch a taste of the action. However, the Students finally got a foothold on the match and finished strongly with the last two scores of the game with their powerful back-rower Howdle coming to the fore in both attack and defence.
The first try came from yet another intercept from a Cowling pass by Brener who this time only had to sprint half the pitch to touch down and again convert. The last score of the game came from the pacey left winger Squires who rounded the defence out wide to run unopposed to the line.
GB Police finished their impressive afternoon where they started it on their opponents line and perhaps cruelly Newton was unable to top a polished display as the ball was dislodged over the line in the tackle.
That was that, though, as the final whistle went and the GB Police progressed into Wednesday’s second round draw, leaving the spectacular venue of Loughborough University 24-38 victors.
1) Alex Clemie 2) Darren Birch 3) Matt Stringer 4) Keiron Murphy 5) Chris Sheffield 6) Ryan Heeley 7) Chris Cowling 8) Phil Chappell 9) Paul Hughes 10) Austen Thompson 11) Jason Southwell 12) Rhys Davies 13) Adam Newton (Capt) 14) Danny Rowland 15) Darrell Rotherham 16) Sean Long 17) Mark Finch
1) Tom Hughes 2) Simon McBean Willis 3) Tom Chellen 4) Tolu Odusanya 5) Anthony Squires 6) Sean Carmody 7) Matt Brener 8) Shane Hill 9) Liam Cree 10) Chris Barratt 11) James Phillips 12) Jack Howdle 13) Tom Kay 14) Sean Ryan 15) Dave Baker 16) Sam Pace 17) Al Calvert
Men of the match
GB Police: Alex Clemie
Loughborough University: Jack Howdle