"Established 1875," exclaims the glass etching above the entrance to the New Brighton Football Club (Rugby Union), which generously hosted the game between the University of Liverpool and Gogledd Cymru last night.
17 -36 were the squad numbers. Gogledd Cymru were without 17 of their squad, owing to injury and work commitments and fielded a squad with only two substitutes. In contrast, the University was showing the benefit of its recent intake of freshers with 36 players in the warm up.
Starting with a core of experienced players, the University looked strong and it was some time before the Gogs began to gain the ascendency, with a try by Jack Moorhouse, converted by Rhodri Carlton-Jones. Jones was one of 7 regular players in a Gogledd Cymru side which showed individual and collective signs of the developments they have made in the last 2 years. At other times basic skills and decision making seemed lacking.
Overall it was a brave and committed performance by the Gogs with COBRA's open side flanker Alun Jones again ourstanding.
The University responded with a first half try. At the break the score was 15-5 from a penalty by Carlton-Jones and a try by Richard Hopkins.
In the second half the University took advantage of the wind and pinned the Gogs to their 22 for large parts of the game but the Gogs pack, ably led by Llion Trefor and strengthened by the late substitution of Dave Blackwell began to generate quick ball, allowing the backs to break out of defence. Penetrating runs by Alun Jones and Richard Hopkins supported by intelligent distribution from Ashley James resulted in tries for both Hopkins and Jones.
With five minutes to go and the Gogs suffering the wear and tear which goes with asking 17 players to compete against 36, the University scored two break away tries, one from a hack ahead and the other from a breakdown on the Gog's line.
"I didn't expect the best" commented coach Jon Aby "But I asked every player to give of their best and they did that." "Being able to field a side with so many people injured or unavailable through work demonstrates the depth of our squad."


When Loughborough collapsed the scrum on their own line for the fourth time in the closing stages of the game, Gogledd Cymru expected a penalty try, having already been awarded three sequential penalties. It was not to be and Loughborough emerged 12-10 winners, in their first visit to Parc Eirias last Wednesday night.
It was an exciting match. In the first half Gogledd Cymru controlled large parts of the game, the scrum was strong, the defence effective and for the first time the Gogs put pressure on the opposition line out. At the break the score was 10-5 in their favour. A break, by open side and man of the match Alun Jones, was finished by Rhodri Carlton-Jones. Carlton-Jones, playing at 15 for the first time looked solid in defence showing excellent decision making in timing his runs out of defence.

Substitutions in the second half made Loughborough a stronger side and a converted try took the score to 12-10. In contrast to Loughborough, the Gogs had a small bench. Injuries to Alun Jones and Huw Roberts resulted in centre Jodie Prior and wing Ioan Davies playing in the back row. Davies assumed his new role with gusto. Relishing the frequency with which he was able get his hands on the ball, his size, speed and penetrating runs caused the opposition considerable problems.

Simon Griffiths, returning from injury was also called in as a substitute and at this stage the Gogs had 3 props and 2 backs in the scrum. Inspirational captain Will Bown remained on the pitch despite carrying a thigh injury.

At the end of the game coach Jon Aby praised the commitment of the players. “I was impressed by the commitment of every player but was disappointed, as they were, with the result. It was a game that we could and should have won. We were camped in the red zone for the last quarter of the game and should have been awarded a penalty try in the closing stages.”

Loughborough coach and former Gogledd Cymru player Dave Morris enjoyed the game and in spite of the long journey has offered to replay the fixture again at a similar time next season.