The previous weekend's thumping 71-4 victory over Kings Lynn saw MK move up to an unprecedented 4th in the table, and in the 1v4 / 2v3 play-off system, that meant a meeting with North Herts Crusaders in Letchworth
MK traveled to North Herts knowing that the task in the Play-Off Semi-Final was always going to be a tough one. Reigning champions, cup winners and league leaders Crusaders didn't only have home advantage, but had been unbeaten all year long. Furthermore, MK were missing some key players from the previous week's win against Kings Lynn.
Nevertheless, the underdogs were keen to give good account of themselves and if this was to be the end of the season, they were determined to go out with their heads held high. And, having taken some big scalps already this season, an upset could always be on the cards.
However, MK suffered an early blow when, shortly after kick-off, 2nd Row Dan Moon-Matten took a nasty blow to the knee that would sideline him for the game. With Dan down and out, Crusaders ran in to score the opening try of the match.
MK then played well with ball-in-hand, putting pressure on the Crusaders' defence, but could not break through. A simple spill resulted in North Herts gathering, and racing away for their 2nd try of the game.
Still, at 10-0, the game was by no means up and MK continued to assert pressure, but were repeatedy repelled by some fierce Crusaders defence that had only conceded little over 100 points all season.
MK then lost another influential player when centre Charlie Manning took a stud to the Achilles, and Crusaders raced away to score again. That was followed by another breakaway North Herts try
Refusing to be unbowed, Stuart Tomkinson capitalised on some great work from the Wolves and crashed over the line for MK with a true Forward's try, which Scott Aspinall duly converted. Crusaders then slipped another MK tackle to score under the posts whihc brought the halftime score to 26-6.
While not an insurmountable halftime deficit, given the small squad and first half injuries, MK were down to no subs and head coach and veteran player Abe Kerr was forced into coming on, and the 2nd half was likely to be a tough ask.
And so it proved - tiredness and frustration on the part of MK led to repeated scores from North Herts, and prolific tryscorer and on-field motivator Oli Fountain's frustrations boiled over, leading him to spend 10 minutes on the sidelines for verbalising his frustrations within earshot of the referee.
While many of the Crusaders' first-half tries had come from breakthroughs and slipped tackles, in the second half with a 10-minute extra man advantage and with exhausted MK players being forced to play out of position, Crusaders could spread the ball with impunity, and did so to devastating effect. With the luxury of resting and rotating players, Crusaders ran in an unanswered 38 points in the second half, and the game was brought to a close with the final score 64-6.
MK WOLVES TEAM vs. NORTH HERTS CRUSADERS,
EAST RL PLAY-OFF SEMI FINAL
SAT 10 AUG, LEGENDS LANE, LETCHWORTH
1 - John Marchbank
2 - Kimo Kirby
3 - Kieran Perry
4 - Charlie Manning
5 - Paul Dady
6 - Chris Melly
7 - (C) Scott Aspinall (1 con)
8 - Dil Punian
9 - Oli Fountain
10 - Ed Kilby
11 - Stuart Tomkinson
12 - Daniel Moon-Matten
13 - Mark Carroll
16 - Abe Kerr
18 - Simon Caplin
19 - Matthew Pearce
North Herts will play St Ives Roosters in the Play-Off Final this weekend to determine the East RL Champions. Meanwhile, plenty of work will go on behind the scenes to continue to grow this club and develop the sport of Rugby League in MK .
Pre-season training will recommence next Spring and we very much look forward to our 3rd ever season, and even more improvement as the club goes from strength to strength.
We do have activities planned for the close season, including touch rugby league sessions coming to MK which will be open to all... follow us on twitter @MKWolvesRL to find out when our first session will be held.
In the meantime, thankyou to all our sponsors and supporters, to this season's opponents, to our coaches, and mostly to those brave, daft & talented lads who - win or lose - have worn the MK shirt with pride, and who have given this city a club and a team to be proud of this year.
To 2014! The Year Of the Wolf!
If anyone wants to join MK Wolves RLFC - whether as a player, junior coach, committee member, sponsor or volunteer, you'd be very welcome. Email us on MiltonKeynesRL@gmail.com
Updated 11:30 - 13 Aug 2013 by Pete Nuttall