1st XV
Matches
Sat 04 Jan 2020  ·  UK IGR Southern League
Berkshire Unicorns RFC
1st XV
Tries: B Brady, A Rajakrishnen, R Wilkins, R Dunn, C Fidler, D Chester, J Paul, D Brady (2), R Francis (2)Conversions: C Fidler (3), C Jarnet, M Spriggs
70
19
Wessex Wyverns RFC
Tries: J Waterman (2), J LoneyConversions: J Loney (2)
Unicorns start 2020 with a win

Unicorns start 2020 with a win

John Kelly8 Jan 2020 - 14:12
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Team maintains momentum in second home league fixture

BERKSHIRE UNICORNS 70 - 19 WESSEX WYVERNS IGR UK SOUTHERN LEAGUE 4th January 2020

After having to postpone our December matches against the Swansea Vikings and Northampton Outlaws the Unicorns put in extra effort at training to prepare for the second half of the season. Our friends the Wessex Wyverns were our opponents for our IGR entry game and one of our oldest oppositions having met three times previously. On all of those occasions the Unicorns came off as second best and the team was keen to score their first win against a team that has proven to be tough opponents. The Wyverns entered the game having played more matches this season and sitting one point above us in the Southern League table so it was all to play for as 2020 rugby kicked off. As with the Wasps, the Unicorns had the home advantage and our assembled supporters and injured members of the blessing were eager to continue the forward momentum from 2019. With the Maindenhead RFC 1st XV in action following our game we were also keen to show off our skills and abilities and show them that their time spent training us has been worthwhile. Conditions for the game were cool, dry and sunny - perfect for our style of rugby - and once again we took to the opportunity to play on the Maidenhead 1st XV 4G pitch. The first game after the Christmas break is always a tough one but the Unicorns were hoping that their over indulgence of Mince Pies and Sweets would not come back to haunt them.

The game started disastrously for the Unicorns, who mentally were still on holiday as the Wyverns Scrum Half J Waterman sailed over our line in the first minute, which was ably converted by Jonathan Loney. Shaken out of our complacency (after a dressing down by Captain John Kelly), the Unicorns mounted an immediate comeback with a deep kick into the Wyverns 22 and a good hustle by the forwards the ball found itself in the hands of Steve Tyler who ran in a try in the corner that remained unconverted.The Wyverns kicked off with a high a deep ball that found itself in the hands of Brian Brady who ran in our second try, which again remained unconverted. Although there had been some good rugby already displayed in the game the combination of laziness and busy hands meant that the Unicorns had been picking up a number of penalties and were very slow to react to that reality, which opened up an opportunity for the Wyverns J Waterman to sneak in near the corner which remained unconverted. Keen for revenge the Unicorns forwards worked hard to press deep into the Wyverns half and were met with a formidable defence that was eventually broken through the use of pick and go's he last of which found itself in the hands of Prop Andy Rajakrishnen, who sensing that 7m was runnable took the opportunity to bag himself a try. Changing the kicker resulted in Charles Fidler giving us our first conversion of the match. After some juicy open play and precision kicks in an act of true 2020 rugby cinema Fly Half Rob Wilkins kicked a cheeky grubber past the Wyverns defence and inexplicably managed to beat all of their backs to fall on the ball over the line and secure a try that was Coach John Kelly's highlight of the match as well as the Unicorns Bonus Point try. The moment was somewhat ruined by the missed drop kick conversion in front of the posts that was a definite contender for DOTD! After catching the ball Number 8 Richard Dunn enjoyed a long run down the pitch, enjoying himself way too much, but nonetheless securing another try for Unicorns which was converted by Charles Fidler to make up for the drop kick debacle. The Wyverns kicked off with a high ball to Brian Brady who made an epic run from 22 to 22 breaking through a number of tackles and getting up from a tackle not held before the Wyverns finally floored him but not before a cheeky offload which sent Charles Fidler over the line and who converted his own try. After such a dazzling display of brilliance it was unfortunate that the effort in making that run resulted in a high tackle in the Unicorns 22 that earned Brian Brady a Yellow Card, partly due to the number of warnings the Unicorns had received over the course of the half. As had been customary all half the Unicorns inability to react to the refs whistle and organise opened an opportunity for the Wyverns Jonathan Loney to score next to the posts which he ably converted. Despite the scoreline the half had been fairly even with a strong Wyverns defence and mistakes by the Unicorns that were largely unpunished helping to open a half time lead.

Half time score 36-17 to the Unicorns.

The second half allowed us to bring on some fresh legs despite starting the half with 14 men Winger Darren Chester found an opening to run in a try in the 43rd minute, though it was unconverted. This action lit a fire under the Wyverns who threatened repeatedly over the next ten minutes and tested our defence which fortunately held. After setting a strong base the Unicorns forwards allowed the opportunity for the ball to get to the backs and out to Joshua Paul who ran in a half pitch try in the 60th minute which also remained unconverted. After play restarted Captain John Kelly had the opportunity to score having broken through the Wyverns defence but in a characteristically selfless act passed the ball to Centre Daryl Brady to run in the try (though it could also have been the need to run 50m, but we will stick with generous). Charlie Jarnet ended the conversion drought by sending it between the posts. If the first half had been about defence and forwards work the second half was all about the backs, with a lot of big runs that ended in trys. Rob Francis made some long breaks to run in trys in the 66th and 73rd minute both of which remained unconverted. With the Unicorns forwards tiring out the ball was taken into a number of maul situations which were not ably exploited by the team and resulted in significant gain in ground by the Wyverns. The backs came to our rescue with a great play that saw Daryl Brady break the line for his second try in the 75th minute which was converted by Marc Spriggs. Tiredness and injury had taken its toll on the Wyverns and although they retained possession they were unable to capitalise and a cheeky jackal by the Unicorns gave us an opportunity to score again. However some poor handling and a knock on ended the last play and the game.

Despite a close first half the Unicorn's had dominated the second half but were very lucky not to have conceded more trys and cards from the numerous penalties we earned. The elements of the game plan were still there and there were some stand out performances from individuals but as a team we were not as strong as in the Wasps match. However all things considered the Unicorns were happy to come away with the win and bag our first victory against our friends the Wyverns.

Unicorns coach and 1st XV Captain John Kelly was tired (from generosity not fatigue) and with hallmarked ambivalence at the side's performance, happy that we had been successful and that individuals had amazing games, yet concerned by the Unicorns new love of high tackles and putting hands where they shouldn't go (and he does mean only on the pitch). He commented "The first match of the year is always a tough one with lack of training and lethargy from overindulgence and I think that was apparent in both sides performances. It was wise to hold a training session before this match to get players back into the groove and I am pleased with the development of our newer players who had tremendous games all round. We showed with the Wasps what we can do when we control the game and play our style of rugby and I hope that we take the lessons from that match and this into our away game next month. The Wyverns are our friends and long term playing partners and I know everyone in the team wanted this win to re-balance the results. After a close match last May I knew it was possible and that hunger helped us to victory today. The Wyverns are a tough side and always a threat when you make a mistake, fortunately we were lucky this time in that those opportunities were not exploited else the scoreline would have been much closer. As with the Wasps we starved the Wyverns of ball and made sure we made good on our openings but I was also very pleased with our defence particularly under sustained pressure. Although there were a lot of positives from this game, the lazy high tackling and decision making at the breakdown means we have a lot of work to do and will certainly need to be sorted out before we head to Bristol to face the Bisons."

"Stand out performances were plentiful in this game and as individuals there was some great development. Certainly Peter Howe, Marcos Cerqueira, John Hamp and Richard Dunn stood out for me and are really making their positions their own. There is the beginnings of a set of really big dynamics which will serve the team well moving forward."

"I want to thank the Wyverns for a typically fun and friendly game and Darren Chester for stepping up for the Wyverns when they went down to 14 men. For me that is the true spirit of the game and we wish the Wyverns success in their few remaining IGR UK Southern League fixtures. We look forward to our visit to Southampton and the London Hotel next season where we can have a proper post match knees up."

A well deserved recipient of Players Man of the Match went to Richard Dunn, whilst Captains Man of the Match was awarded to Peter Howe. As most of us are broke or on Dry January, this months post match social was a bit of a subdued affair but we would still like to take the opportunity to thank the Staff and Venues of Off The Tap and Smokey's Maidenhead for an awesome post match social. Our thanks as ever also go to our lovely hosts Maidenhead RFC for our post match food and refreshments. Our new year league campaign continues in February when we face the Bristol Bisons away.

Match details

Match date

Sat 04 Jan 2020

Kickoff

14:15

Meet time

10:30

Instructions

Kick off is confirmed for 1200. Meet at 1030 to be out for warm up and run throughs at 1100, if you have tape for your personal needs then please bring it as Santa has yet to deliver our Christmas tape bounty

Competition

UK IGR Southern League

League position

3
Berkshire Unicorns RFC
6
Wessex Wyverns RFC
Team overview
Further reading