Sport writer Kieren Williams reports on the UoB Kickboxing Team's latest competition successes in a four-part special for Redbrick Sport, in Part 4, he reports on the evening of finals for UoBWritten by Kieren Williams on 4th May 2018
Brum fail to hold on to Gloucestershire
Men's Super 8s:
0 - 36
THE University’s 1st XIII rugby league team slumped to a 36-0 defeat against a Gloucestershire 1st XIII who dominated throughout Wednesday evening’s Super 8 encounter. The loss means that Birmingham has registered just one win from seven in this season’s BUCS campaign.
On a Bournbrook pitch which, previously, had exclusively hosted rugby union and American football fixtures, the home side failed to gain any sort of foothold in a match which they were always chasing. The outstanding performance of the night was that of Gloucestershire stand-off Dan Poulton whose kicking masterclass and energetic running saw him amass 18 of his side’s points.
Birmingham had started the game doggedly, pegging the away team back into their own half. Right wing Matt Infante was the most threatening weapon in their artillery and, after just six minutes, was unleashed down his flank before being eventually bundled into touch. However, Gloucestershire eventually started to show their class and creativity. Scrum-half Rory Trow, positioned directly in front of the posts, kicked a simple drop-goal to give his team a 1-0 lead.
The away team continued to press, centre Andy Webster and the electric wing Patrick Evans combining well down the left-hand side, but were stopped in their tracks on numerous occasions by a resolute Birmingham defence. Inevitably, the Gloucestershire breakthrough did come. Hooker Rob Webber was tackled just a metre from the home team’s try-line but, quickly retrieving the loose ball, eventually scored in the corner. Kicking from the touchline, Poulton converted his first two points of the evening’s proceedings with aplomb.
Birmingham, however, did not cave in and battled well in midfield. Infante broke loose from a tackle but came up short of the try line. Then, after some fluid phase play, centre Rhodri Kent thought he had touched-down. Unfortunately, the referee adjudged that there had been a double movement and the home team were denied the opportunity to establish themselves in the match.
Shortly before half-time, Gloucestershire consolidated their lead. Following a fumbled ball and a toe-poke towards the corner, full back Harry Boughton powered over the line despite a brave last-gasp tackle from his opposite number Scott Bennett. The try was awarded despite unfounded Birmingham protests and Poulton converted to give the visitors a 13-0 lead at the interval.
Despite starting the second half with intent, Birmingham eventually collapsed. With just three minutes of the half gone, their best chance of the game was squandered after a dropped ball. Too often, their backline drifted across the pitch rather than cutting straighter and more effective angles in attack. Moments later, Poulton broke through to score and his subsequent opportunity for another two points was confidently taken.
The visitors’ fourth try of the match was calmly touched-down, once again, by their inspirational stand-off. After a fine break, Trow sensibly offloaded as, off balance, he stumbled towards the try-line and Poulton, the only support runner, finished off the move and ended Birmingham’s hopes of a potential comeback. As Big Joe chimed, Poulton slotted his conversion through the posts.
The final two tries were claimed by Evans, whose wilful running was a constant thorn in Birmingham’s side. The first saw him break loose of Andy Stimson and Greg Stewart before showing a fantastic sleight of foot to finish in the corner. For the second, he scrambled over the try-line after Webster had broken through the home team’s now fatigued defence. Sandwiched between the tries, Trow sent the ball over the posts for his second drop-goal.
The game ended scrappily and Birmingham managed to gain some territory as complacency crept in to the visitors’ game. However, the referee’s final whistle signalled a Gloucestershire victory which ensured that they recorded the double over their West Midlands rivals, having won a comfortable opening game of the season, on home turf, 46-0.
Gloucester head coach, Ken Stone, was understandably thrilled with his team: ‘It was a strong overall performance. After a fairly even opening 20 minutes, we really took control of the game. We now need to push on from here in order to have a successful second half to the campaign.’
Birmingham will be disappointed with their performance. Outclassed and outplayed, it will be difficult to pick themselves up from this demoralising defeat for next week’s Super 8 encounter away at Loughborough University. An individual performance to the tune of Poulton’s would go a long way to improving their chances of victory.