Brunel Rugby League are BUCS South-Eastern champions!
Brunel won a thrilling encounter at home against league rivals Cambridge on Wednesday 4th Feb, all but securing them the title. BRL's championship status was then made certain a week later when Cambridge lost again to St. Mary's. Brunel have been in fine form this season, scoring 238 points from their 7 games and keeping a 100% record at home. The league was put in doubt, however, when Brunel travelled to Cambridge on 21st of January and suffered a demoralising defeat. But Brunel forged on, and a narrow win in the reverse fixture virtually guaranteed the celebrations would go ahead.
Brunel took the lead on the day when Ibrahim Kabia spotted an early gap and jumped down the blind side, feeding in Matt Skelding to score. Sloppiness from Brunel then cost them dearly, as knock-ons and other mistakes allowed Cambridge to take the lead with two quick tries.
The Big Dogs rallied and pushed Cambridge back to their line, at which point Kabia was the playmaker again and played a fantastic dummy pass to Tim Elliott who dived over the line. BRL then took the lead heading in to half time as Kabia got his hat-trick of assists, setting up a slick try with a cross to Malikhi Lloyd-Jones.
However, Cambridge's conditioning was crucial in the second half, leading them to two tries out wide and putting them back into a winning position.
A penalty in front of the sticks looked to be enough to see out the game and possibly steal the title. After five wins from Brunel's first five games, all of a sudden the league was slipping from their grasp. But with less than 10 minutes left, Kabia set up Captain Lloyd-Jones for a try almost identical to their last, and the tension from both teams was palpable.
With just minutes left, Howard Smith darted out from dummy-half to dive over the line and give Brunel an emotional victory.
After the game, Brunel half-back and committee member Chris Meadway said: “The game proved how much we have improved in a very successful season and highlighted the fantastic team spirit we've had all year. “The boys showed a lot of heart to bounce back after the last match at Cambridge where we lost miserably.”
But winning the league is far from the end of the Big Dogs campaign for 2014-15, the new league champions are still to play Essex, and also have a tough away game at Manchester in the Cup. Finally, of course, is the crucial Varsity game against St. Mary's in March.
Meadway sums it up aptly: “It's been a great year for the club. We've become a well-oiled machine and proved that with wins week in and week out. Bring on Varsity.”