UCS Old Boys come from behind to make a winning start against Wasps

Tom Loughnan in action for UCS Old Boys. Pic: Nick Cook/UCS Old Boys RFC

Tom Loughnan in action for UCS Old Boys. Pic: Nick Cook/UCS Old Boys RFC - Credit: Archant

UCS Old Boys came from behind in the final 20 minutes to record a 17-9 opening-day victory over London Wasps as they began life in London North-West Division Three.

UCS were relegated last season and appeared to be heading for defeat on Saturday, trailing 9-5 in the 70th minute – but tries from Rory Gibson and Damir Jovanovic turned the game on its head and ensured the Old Boys made a winning start.

It was a special occasion for the club as a whole, not just the first team, as the annual ladies day attracted hundreds of people, who saw all four of the Old Boys’ teams emerge victorious.

The first XV did not start the game well. Having collected the ball from the kick-off, a poor chase from the subsequent kick and a missed tackle from Gibson allowed Wasps’ winger to run deep into the 22.

A try was only prevented by outstanding scramble defence from Will McWhirter, but the visitors still came away with points as the ensuing pressure resulted in a successful penalty kick.

UCS were lucky to only be three points down, but they then produced a sustained period of possession while controlling the set piece - and punishing scrummaging from the front row of Ahmad Ghanem, Alex Klimov, and Gareth Watson-Cowen was combined with clean line-out ball through James May and Alex Jayne. This platform allowed the likes of Mert Zabci, Jovanovic and Jack Boulden to engage in some brutal carrying.

The good quality of possession resulted in several promising attacks, and Dom Rollo-Walker was particularly unlucky not to score after good hands down the left from James Boxer.

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Finally, after a significant period of time encamped in the opposition’s 22, UCS got over the line. Strong carries from the UCS pack sucked in the Wasps’ wide defence, allowing Boxer to throw a long miss pass wide to the left, and winger Tom Loughnan dotted down in the corner.

However, Wasps kicked a second penalty to take a 6-5 lead into the break and, although man of the match Matt Jacobs and Boxer starred in a strong defensive display in the midfield after the interval, the visitors extended their advantage to 9-5.

UCS were not helped when Ghanem was harshly sin-binned by a rucking offence, and an opening-day defeat was on the cards.

But more strong defending from Jacobs in the UCS half led to a wayward pass from Wasps – and Gibson gladly intercepted the ball to run in under the posts for a converted try which put the Old Boys 12-9 up.

Not content to sit on their lead, the hosts pushed for a killer score and were unfortunate to miss out on a few occasions – especially when Loughnan was controversially adjudged to have been held up after pouncing on an outrageous grubber kick from second row May.

But, after a concerted period of dominance, UCS were finally able to put the game beyond Wasps’ reach as Jovanovic crashed over to score a well-deserved try – and there was no time left for the away team to respond.

The Old Boys visit Fullerians on Saturday.

UCS Old Boys: McWhirter (Stephenson), Loughnan, Rollo-Walker, Gibson, Jacobs, Boxer, O’Dwyer, Ghanem (Miller), Klimov, Watson Cowen, May, Jayne, Boulden ( Attwood), Zabci, Jovanovic