Liverpool Vets Snatch Victory in Last Minute
By David Jervis
Scrummage dominance beaten by pace and youthful vigour
Warrington 2nd XV 32 Liverpool University Vet Students 34
In an exciting game between two sides of contrasting styles, Warrington’s hopes of progressing into the next round of the Robinson’s Brewery Division 1 Jug were severely dented when Liverpool University Vets students sneaked a try in the closing seconds to draw level and the then closed out the game with the conversion with the clock already in the red. If they are to move to the next round, Warrington must now beat Birkenhead Park and hope that Birkenhead Park beat the students to allow the slide rules to come out to decide the winners of Pool D.
Warrington started well and a telling break from young recruit, Josh McCulloch, was exploited by the forwards and, eventually, Chris White burrowed over. The students replied quickly with a converted try provided by ominously excellent handling and Warrington were two points down.
However, Warrington were now playing to their strengths and their scrimmage assumed total dominance, at times resembling a Centurion tank grinding over a clapped-out Ford Focus. After 15 minutes this Champagne scrimmaging saw their brut force earn them a penalty try. Ten minutes later, Warrington’s forward superiority saw the pack drive over from five yards and Josh Riley claimed the touch-down. Liverpool hit back within minutes of the restart, when their lively stand-off weaved his way through a slack Warrington defence to score and reduce the margin to just five points.
Shortly before half time, Warrington increased their lead when their stand-off Ollie Hudson, in his first season of senior rugby and surely a name to note for the future, picked up a loose pass in the Vets’ 22 and stepped beautifully at speed to touch down between the posts and allow Max Caldwell an easy conversion.
The second half saw the visitors step up a gear, as they started to play some excellent off-loading rugby. For a time, the Warrington defence stood up to the new challenge bu when a clearance kick was charged down, the students combined well to score in the corner. Max Caldwell then slotted a penalty The students’ off-loading game was now showing dividends and two tries, saw them draw level at 27-27.
Warrington again replied in style to regain the lead. Max Caldwell fielded a clearance kick in his own half and showed that he has lost none of his talent with a run that took the ball deep into Liverpool territory. The momentum was continued by the forwards and a bullocking run by prop Jon Ward was halted just five yards out. Fortunately the ubiquitous Christian White was on hand and he bustled over for his second try.
With time running out, it seemed that Warrington had ensured victory. But the Vets had other ideas. Running every penalty and backing up every half break, they left it to the last minute to touch down under the posts. The try was converted, the referee blew the final whistle and the visitors had snatched victory at the very last.
“It’s difficult to believe that we stuck 60 points on the Vets in the first game of the season.” commented coach Stu Colman. “However, this was a totally different side and although we dominated the set piece we had no answer to their off-loading game and, perhaps, their fitness.”