Devils Kick off 2021 With a Spirited Victory Over the Aardvarks
March 20th saw the Devils return to Beijing cup action against our oldest rivals, the Aardvarks. Unlike previous Beijing derbies, this game had an added edge to it as the varks’ previous victory meant that it was not only points on the line, but pride for a largely reunited Devils side post-COVID.
The opening exchanges were cagey, with a lot of balls going down as both sides adjusted to the windy conditions. This, however, led to a number of scrums and it was in this sphere that the Devils pack, led from the front by the ruthless Omar Ezzat, Taylor Muller and Joe Rodden, began to assert their dominance. Camped on the Aardvarks line, the Devils pack eventually gave the referee no choice but to award a penalty try due to a string of scrum collapses from the opposition.
The Aardvarks came back strong, and the rest of the half was a battle of hard carries and big hits from both sides. Towards the end of the half, the Devils, once again camped on the opposition 22 as a result of some excellent kicking from Justin Van Jaarsveld, pushed for a second score. Despite some spirited defending, the Aardvarks’ resolve was eventually overcome as another strong scrum provided a platform for captain Hendy to cut a piercing line and cross from close range. Half time score, Devils 12 Aardvarks 0.
The second half started poorly for the Devils, with the Aardvarks’ introducing some strong ball carrying replacements who dented our defensive line which enabled a score under the posts, 12-7. Not disheartened, it was here where the Devils showed our character and started to play our systems. Strong carries from man of the match Chris Planchant, Poese Toomata, coach Buxton and chairman Lynch set a great platform. This, combined with some ill-discipline from the Aardvarks at the breakdown, resulted in a string of penalties. A quick tap from the ever alert Vincent Guillaume provided an overlap for captain Jack to score his second.
This score turned out to be a turning point, with the Devils using the momentum to carry effectively and enable the backs to pull off a string of slick line breaks. This, alongside some excellent impacts from our bench, enabled Brent Michie and his hairband to cross once more, followed by further scores from Steve and a second penalty try due to continued Aardvarks infringements at the breakdown. Tired legs and shoulders towards the end of the game did result in another Aardvarks score, but this was not enough to deny the Devils an essential victory. The final score on the day, 34-12.
A huge thank you to all of our friends and families who came out to support. It was a true squad effort across the entire Devils community. This weekend, we do it all again against Shandong Sports University!