Tournament 1 – 01/12/2018 @Wembley
It was a cold and very wet day that welcomed the Exiles at Wembley for their first foray into 7 aside football. It would turn into a day of highs and lows, failures and triumphs.
Our first game was against our old adversaries the Oxford Saints (the only team other than ourselves that were able to make the leap from 5’s to 7’s this season). A successful recent recruiting campaign had bolstered our squad but meant that it was heavily laden with inexperienced rookies. We knew that it would be down to our experienced players to help out our rookies to step-up to be able to compete at this higher level. The game started fairly balanced but very soon the Saints were to stamp their dominance upon it. Missed tackles and missed opportunities coupled with the well-coached implementation of the Saints game plan was to be our downfall. The Saints were able to move the ball successfully against us and score on multiple drives, whilst all of ours were to be stopped short and scoreless. Sadly we were to end the game at the wrong end of a 32-0 score! The game proved to be a quick and steep learning curve but a learning experience none the less.
Injuries in the game depleted our squad and left us in a precarious position player wise. However the decision was made to go ahead with the next game and it was a decision that would not be regretted.
Our next game against the Cardiff Valkyries would prove to be a much closer affair with the score staying close for most of the game. Both teams fought extremely hard and ground it out on the slippery turf. The gritty, muddy (at times hard to tell who was who due to them all being covered in mud) affair could have gone either way but a couple of timely interceptions were to turn the tide for us and allowed us to pull ahead by two scores. The Valkyries would pull it back at the end but we were able to hold out and finish exhausted but victorious 25-18.
The tournament hosted by excellent hosts the Wembley Stallions was not the start into 7’s that we would have hoped for but it was still a positive one and one with many lessons for us to learn from and go back and work on.
For now it’s time for us to ‘lick our wounds’ and prepare for round two in a fortnights time in Cardiff.