Super Series 1 - Division 1 - Write Up
The GBWR Division One season has officially started as this past weekend (Oct 20th/21st) was the first of three Super Series. Both LondonWRC teams Storm and Crusaders travelled up to Fenton Manor Sports Complex in Stoke-on-Trent to compete with the other six D1 teams. Well sort of, the first surprise of the season was Gaelic Warriors being unable to attend due to insufficient personnel. So to ensure no game time was lost GB constructed a Scrimmage team consisting of athletes from within the talent programme and some additional Division 2 players. I imagine disappointing for the Warriors as they won't score any points but a decent solution. An opportunity for the Scrimmage athletes to get experience and the remaining D1 teams get a no pressure match of wheelchair rugby as they would already win by default.
Our athletes travelled up on the Friday evening and most were pretty well rested after a decent night sleep in the Premier Inn. Saturday morning, both teams fuelled up and after a ten minute trip to the venue, Storm had their the first of three pool games, this one up against Canterbury Hellfire. A dominating performance throughout meant Storm took the win by almost a twenty point lead. Crusaders first pool game was against Solent Sharks and a similar result for London as Cru won by the same margin of eighteen. So a great start from both London teams.
Second pool game had Storm versus the newly developed Scrimmage team. An unknown entity but as I've said the win would be ours no matter the result. It just so happens Storm put in another dominating performance and won 51-31. Crusaders second pool game pitched them up against the newly promoted Yorkshire Lions. Fresh from Division 2, again we didn't know much about this team apart from their biggest threat would be three pointer Paul McDerby. With the beast Jim Roberts on our side we had mismatches in our favour and Cru powered ahead with over a twenty point difference at the final buzzer.
Third pool games would see both London teams challenged as they were against the number one and two from last season. Storm would face the reigning champions Leicester Tigers. A strong team with an almost all GB Elite line up, plus this seasons addition of their foreign import, Leon Jorgenson, a fast and experienced three pointer. Storm fought hard but the Tigers were too strong and this lead to London's first defeat of the season. In the other pool Crusaders third game was against West Coast Crash, who also have a few GB Elite on their roster. We knew this would be a tough one as it's been in the past, but the Crusaders aren't afraid of challenge. I'm extremely pleased to say we stepped up, pushed hard and played as a team. With turnovers from both sides it was close all the way through, the final result, Crusaders victory by four points. Very well played!
These results meant it would be an all London crossover game. It's always a pleasure to see our teams go head to head. As we train together the athletes know each other well along with the tactics used. This one was real close, as the seconds ticked away neither team were pulling ahead. It was an awesome battle with Crusaders taking the win by a narrow two points.
So now for the finals. We had one team, Storm in the 3rd / 4th play off and Crusaders would battle for 1st / 2nd. It was an interesting concept as we faced a switch in opponents from our third pool games. Storm played Crash, admittedly a frustrating team to play, very functional and speedy. The score was close for a while but Crash slowly pulled away and beat Storm who ended in 4th place. Crusaders were up against Tigers who couldn't play their import Leon as he'd been called for two flagrant fouls in the previous game. Still they had a very strong line up that proved too much for our Crusaders. We didn't start with the same ferocity and were punished for it, Tigers went up a couple early on. After a coaches time out we refocused and managed to slow their progression but it wasn't enough, the Tigers won by five. Both teams played really well and it was a great game of wheelchair rugby.
Overall I'm pleased with our performance and progress, our teams are gelling and our game play is smoother for it. Results of 2nd and 4th show there's room for improvement but we're in the top half of the table. Congratulations to our athletes who received best in class Jonathan Coggan, Chris Ryan, Matt Hignet and Jim Roberts who picked up MVP. I'm sure you're with me on looking forward to the second Super Series on the 24th / 25th November and seeing if either London team can improve their position, you can see the table standings here. Also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates. As always, a massive thank you to GBWR, support staff and everyone involved on a great start to the season!