Ruthless Romans convincingly win their first ever West of England Challenge Cup Final
Courtesy of Bath & Wiltshire Romans
It is quite remarkable to believe that the Bath & Wiltshire Romans RLFC (Rugby League Football Club) founded only a couple of months ago by Steven Bray and Chris Chatten could be featuring in a cup final let alone winning it. However, on Saturday 20th June 2015 at Dings Crusaders RFC rugby union ground in Bristol this is exactly what they did.
The Romans ran out as convincing winners over Cheltenham Phoenix; leading 24-6 at half time with the final score standing at 40-10. However, credit should go to Cheltenham for their attitude throughout the game and never giving up despite a couple of serious injuries; first full back Jonny Loudon (broken leg) and then at the end of the game to loose forward Zac France (neck injury).
For the opening minutes of the game it was nip and tuck for both teams as you could sense both sets of players were feeling the tension of competing in a final. However, it was the Romans who broke the deadlock with stand off Paul Riley’s ‘show and go’ seeing him go over unopposed under the sticks giving Mike Harrison (Armed Forces Rugby League International) an easy conversion.
It wasn’t long before Riley goes over again this time out wide after some good pass play to create an overlap, Harrison’s conversion attempt went wide. At this point in the game the Romans kept the score board ticking over at regular intervals with blockbusting prop Steve Flintoft going over half way out from the sticks showing good leg drive with heavy traffic from 3 Phoenix defenders.
All Romans tries in the first half were created down the left hand side of the pitch, wing Matty James was next to go over in the corner. After Mike Harrison had missed a few conversion attempts the kicking duties were handed to utility player Joe Knight who had come on off the bench managed to convert the Romans next try where Huw Parks showed a good turn of pace to out sprint the Phoenix defence and go over half way out.
Huw could be one of the finds of the season. He has only being with the club for a few weeks but was showing signs of the form that will have brought him both Welsh Exiles and Wilts & Dorset County Under 18’s honours in the union code. Phoenix second row Sam Coles went in for a try just before half time which was duly converted by centre Marcus Raymond.
The Romans started the second half slowly as has been a trend in most games over the last few weeks and it was Phoenix to strike the first blow with wing George Sherborne squeezing in at the corner, conversion was unsuccessful but a comeback looked on the cards, at 24-10 to the Romans.
However, it wasn’t long before Romans centre Harrison steamed through a gap in the Phoenix defence to score from 20 yards out bringing the score to 30-10 with the Romans in the ascendancy. The second half was a lot tighter, but Riley got the opportunity to scoot in for his hat trick try after Romans forwards won a scrum against the head (unusual for Rugby League), but Knight had the last word with the final try of the game and also converted his effort to bring his kicking tally for the second half to 2 from 3.
Romans man of the match went to Paul Riley not only for his hat trick of tries but also for controlling the game well from half back.
Chris Chatten, Romans spokesperson, said “We are really please to win the first ever West of England Challenge Cup Final and it is what dreams are made of after only setting the club up a couple of months ago. However, we still need to focus on the league competition. It is a shame the game was marred slightly by some serious injuries to Phoenix players, all at the club send both players their best wishes”
The Romans now have a free week next weekend and possibly the week after too but some players may be given a run out in the Swindon Rugby League 9’s competition on 4th July and the Romans next competitive game is also at Swindon in a West of England Premier League fixture against Swindon St. George on Saturday 11th July 2015, 2.30pm KO.
Recruitment for both players and off the field volunteers is ongoing. The club train on Tuesdays at leafy lane, Corsham starting at 7pm. There is currently a buzz about the club so come and join us or indeed come and watch a game.
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