UCS targeting a top-six finish

UCS are targetting a top-six finish after defying the very wet ground conditions at Ranuph Road on Saturday, to beat London New Zealand 12-8 in London 2 North West.

A late inspection had been called after heavy overnight rain had left some standing water on the grounds and despite the match getting the go-ahead the difficult conditions were never going to be conducive to running rugby.

However both sides tried to run the ball and move it away from the breakdown, and UCS gradually took the upper hand as Dave O’Dwyer and James Boxer controlled the game by kicking cleverly and using runners close to the breakdown to instigate rucks.

The pressure almost paid off on 15 minutes when tackles by Boxer and then Matt Jacobs caused the Kiwi to spill the ball, which was collected and spun wide to Jermaine Barnes on the right wing.

Barnes went outside his man, passed to Marimba Odundo-Mendez, who is currently on loan from London Scottish, who was dragged down short of the line.

But UCS kept up the pressure, and opened the scoring when No.8 Ben Carter touched down.

Boxer slotted the conversion for a 7-0 lead, only for the visitors to cut the deficit to four points with a penalty after UCS were penalised for hands in the ruck.

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UCS extended their lead in the second half when Christian Henk threw the lineout ball perfectly to Stuart Orr, who set up the maul which was seemingly stopped just short of the line. However Odundo-Mendez added his weight to the maul, before collecting the ball and touching down.

The conversion was missed and a late, unconverted try from the Kiwis set up a thrilling last five minutes, but UCS were up to the challenge and held out to secure a spirited win.

Geoff Boxer, the UCS Director of Rugby said: “The conditions were desperate and it was a credit that all the players handled it so well and managed to move the ball wide, even if both teams attacked from far too deep to be really effective.

“We have real power in the tight now, with a powerful and dynamic front five, and willing ball carriers in Tim Sydor and Ben Carter.

“We have added some real pace at outside centre with Marimba Odundo-Mendez and we look forward to some drier grounds for him to show his gears.

“With five games to go we appear to be just about safe of relegation and heading for a top six finish.”

UCS visit neighbouring Hampstead on Saturday.

? HAMPSTEAD remain in 11th place, just three points off the foot of the table, after their game with Harpenden was postponed.

? HENDON received a five-point walkover after Old Hamptonians failed to field a suitable team.

? IN LONDON 3, Haringey Rhinos lost 20-0 at Fullerians.