Leicester Storm Rugby League Club got off to a winning start at their new Brooksby Melton College home on Saturday (11th April) afternoon, scoring late to defeat Gloucestershire Warriors 32-26 in the Conference League South.
Four tries from Frank Barlow and a try apiece from Reece Williams and Kevin Wroe secured victory for the Storm, with Barlow’s 79th-minute score the decider against a Gloucestershire Warriors side making their debut in Conference League South this season.
A healthy crowd of just over 100 spectators made their way to Brooksby Melton College for the first rugby league game to be held at the brand-new sports facilities on campus, with the home side taking control of the game from the opening whistle.
The encounter was a mere three minutes old as Barlow went over for his first try; an easy run over the line following a neat scrum move by the Storm, with Barlow grabbing his second just seven minutes later. Excellent ball movement amongst the Storm backs found the wing with plenty of space to ease over to increase the score; however, whilst Mark Etherington managed to convert the game’s opening try, he was unable to land the second.
The first half saw a number of penalties and handling errors impede the flow of the match; however Leicester continued to push for a third try as Gloucestershire struggled to find their attacking rhythm in the game. Desperate defence from the visitors in the opening 40 minutes saw the Warriors hold up three Storm attempts, but they couldn’t prevent Reece Williams from scoring on 23 minutes running down the line in plenty of space and with a three-man overlap to touch down.
Gloucestershire remained resolute and got their reward on the half-hour mark when Nathan Rainer barged his way over the line to reduce the deficit, with Hanley Dawson adding the extras from the tee. However, the Storm extended their lead further at the end of the half. Following a poor kick from the Warriors, which failed to find touch, Kevin Wroe coasted through a huge hole to score.
Despite Leicester having a healthy 20-6 lead going into the second half, it was Gloucestershire who came out of the blocks quicker. Four minutes after the restart, Rainer crashed over for his second try of the game, with a further try disallowed after referee Darren Hayes ruled Bradley Mais’ pass to Scott Claridge as being forward.
Storm went over to score on the hour mark, as Barlow sealed his hat-trick; however, Warriors immediately hit back, with Claridge making up for his disallowed effort by forcing his way over from close range on 58 minutes and again 12 minutes later.
With Gloucestershire in the ascendency, the visitors ran over once more to level the scores, although Matt Jones was unable to give them the lead with the resulting goal kick. Pushing for the winner, the Warriors were caught in possession to give Storm a final chance – with Leicester making the opportunity count. Barlow, in excellent form, managed to defy a solid Gloucestershire defence to score, and Etherington’s fifth goal of the day rubbed salt in the wounds of the Warriors and seal a memorable first win at Brooksby Melton College.
Leicester Storm: Jack Williams; Reece Rance, Frank Barlow, Josh West, Oli Saville; Mark Etheridge, Lewis Chapman; Reece Williams, Jacob Hudson, Tim Farndon; Aston Stephenson, Mark White; Roddy Jonas (c)
Interchange: Kev Wroe, Dan Baillie, Demetrius Gonsalves, Jonathan Hunt, Tom Bulmer.
Tries: Frank Barlow (3, 8, 55, 79), Reece Williams (23), Kevin Wroe (39)
Goals: Mark Etheridge (5)
Leicester Storm’s next game will see the side make the short trip to Coventry Bears on Saturday 18th April, before the Storm return to Brooksby Melton College on Saturday 25th April, to take on Oxford Cavaliers (2:00pm).