Saturday 28th March 2015
Conference League South
Valley Cougars 28 Leicester Storm 0
Horrendous playing conditions and an incredible run of injuries played their respective parts as Leicester Storm fell to their first defeat of the 2015 Conference League South campaign on Saturday, suffering a 28-0 loss at the hands of reigning champions Valley Cougars at Glyncoch RFC.
The Storm found themselves without a number of key personnel through illness ahead of the four-hour journey to South Wales, with matters made worse in the pre-match warm-up when prop Keiron Bowes was injured as a result of the boggy playing surface. As a result, Dan Baillie was brought in and handed his first-team debut for the Storm.
The second set of the match saw the Cougars take an early lead, as a speculative kick from the home side stopped dead in the mud over the line, allowing Lee Goddard to get a touch on the ball under the posts. Paul Emanuelli, one of six players in the Cougars squad to also represent Championship One’s South Wales Scorpions, kicked the additional points from the tee.
However, after the game’s early score, matters became even, as both teams were forced to content with the awful Glyncoch playing surface. The Storm came close to scoring through captain Roddy Jonas on the right-hand side; however, the visitors were later reduced to just 15 men in the squad, when second row Ty Watson was upended in a dubious tackle that left him with a cracked rib.
Soon after, Cougars extended their lead through a well-worked move that was finished well by Anthony Symons, with Emanuelli again adding the extra two points with the boot.
Before the half-time interval, Storm’s bad luck continued, with prop Lewis Flack forced to leave the field of play with a suspected dislocated shoulder, resulting with just one player available on the interchange for the rest of the match.
Things went from bad to worse for the Storm early in the second half, as full back Jack Williams suffered a broken hand, forcing the visitors to play the rest of the game with no reserves.
Although Storm continued to play with a great deal of spirit and endeavour, the strength of the Cougars’ six on-loan professionals told in the game’s closing minutes. The Welsh side ran in three tries in the final quarter-of-an-hour to seal victory.
Following the defeat, head coach Dean Thomas said: “The score only tells half the story, because when you look at the playing conditions I think both teams would say that it’s nowhere near suitable for a game of rugby league. I’d think that if a pitch inspection had been held prior to us leaving Leicester; the game would have been called off.
“We had a number of players out through illness even before we set off for Wales, but the number of injuries we picked up during the game speaks volumes and a lot of the lads will have to be assessed before the game against Gloucestershire after the Easter break.
“I can’t fault the lads’ spirit and desire to keep playing, because we were really up against it. Cougars have a very strong squad and capitalised on a few areas in the game. We’re disappointed, but we look forward to the break over Easter and our first game at Brooksby Melton College on 11th April.”
Leicester Storm: 1 Jack Williams, 2 Oli Saville, 3 Alex Williams, 4 Frank Barlow, 5 Aston Stevenson, 6 Mark Etherington, 7 Kev Wroe, 8 Reece Williams, 9 Jacob Hudson, 10 Kieron Bowes, 11 Ty Watson, 12 Lewis Flack, 13 Roddy Jonas (c), 14 Jack Boothby, 15 Mark White, 16 Dan Baillie, 17 Liam Crocker