Hemel Stags Development 20-6 MK Wolves RL
Tries: I. Gray (1)
Goals: S. Aspinall (1)
Weds 25 April 2012, k-o 7.45pm, Pennine Way, Hemel Hempstead.
The game came in the shape of a friendly against Hemel Stags' Development side, and the boys headed down to Pennine Way with a mixture of excitement, anticipation and determination.
On arrival at Pennine Way, in changing rooms that were a world away from Emerson Valley's facilities, the opportunity to pull on an MK Wolves shirt for the first time wasn't lost on the team as they kitted up and headed out for the warm-up.
Drills completed, the team re-gathered in the dressing room and began to ready themselves for the game. "This may be our first ever outing," was the message. "But we are Milton Keynes. Let's get out there and do ourselves justice. Let them know who we are".
With these rousing words ringing in their ears, the team headed out onto the field for the first time in the club's existence.
Our opposition were a well-drilled unit, with some very talented players who next year will no doubt be gracing the semi-professional Championship One division, but the early stages of the match saw MK Wolves looking like upsetting the balance of power. We spent long periods camped on Hemel's try line, but a score proved elusive, and then equally long periods fiercely defending our lines, with impressive success.
If took the talented Hemel side over 15 minutes to penetrate the resolute Wolves defence with a try, but Wolves regathered and stuck in for another attack.
MK Wolves' first every try came mid-way through the 2nd half when, with a true prop-forward's score, Ian Gray powered over from 5 yards out with three men hanging off him to ground the ball under the posts. Player/coach Scott Aspinall added the conversion.
The game ended 20-6 to Hemel, but every MK player can feel rightly proud of their performance. For a first ever game it was a great match that showed the dogged determination and rigourous defence that opposition sides will have to face this season when taking on the Wolves. Moreover, it was a great way to prepare for the rigours of our first ever competitive match.
It's hard to pick stand-out performances when every man excelled, but Ian Gray's history-making try will live long in the memory (made more remarkable knowing that he is a huge football fan who until last month had zero interest in rugby. That has, of course, now changed).
Also, huge credit to former Hemel youth player Callum Moon, who despite not looking the most imposing player on the field, was tackling all comers with no fear whatsoever. As he said afterwards, "I was worried when my first tackle was against their biggest man, but once I'd hit him and brought him down, I thought 'Well, it'll only get easier from now on...'"
MK Wolves' first competitive game will be vs. Bedford Tigers, Sat 5th May 2012 (k-o 2.30pm) at Emerson Valley Sports Pavillion.