"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."