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Guy’s Hospital Penguins Tour to the Jersey Vets Super 10’s

St. Helier, Jersey, The Channel Isles

7th & 8th October 2017

Penguins do much, much better this year!

Having attended the 2016 Jersey Vets tournament for the first time on a fact-finding mission with a small squad of 15 we had high hopes on our return with a much larger squad of 30. As players arrived by boat and by plane from across the UK we prepared ourselves for a weekend of action.

Day 1

The Penguins first match against Weybridge Vandals got off to a mixed start. David Berry made a silky break with his first touch but in doing so pulled a hamstring which ended his participation in the tournament.  However, his break did set up the opening try for Andrew Vaughton. Further tries by Nick Evans, Shane Roiser and Timothy Price helped the Penguins to a strong 40-5 victory as well as new captain Jamie Jackson’s first win.

Our second group game in the ‘pool of death’ was against last year’s tournament winners Henley Vultures which we narrowly won by 14-7. The hamstring curse continued with Shane Roiser pulling his! Henley went ahead with an early try but Guy’s fought back with St. Mary’s import Graham Corin showing great pace to finish off a try created by Andrew Vaughton following another strong carry by Mark Edmondson. Nick Evans was the man to break the deadlock and put us in front and despite Rhys Davies receiving a yellow card in the final minutes we held on for a great victory.

Next up in our final group match we faced the host team Jersey. A victory here would ensure we finished top of the group. Guy’s scored the opening try but Jersey fought back with a couple of their own. However, in the end they were unable to live with the pace of our backs and we finished the game 28-14. Our four tries were scored by Nick Evans, Timothy Price and a pair for Nnamdi Chinye. Cue an evening of rehydrating, ice baths and video analysis in preparation for day 2...

Day 2

Sunday morning started very positively when all 30 members of the tour party made the coach to the rugby club - despite various degrees of wellbeing! Unlike the first day where we had battled with wet and windy conditions, the sun was out and the weather was spectacular. We knew this could well help our style of rugby and so it proved. The first match was against Welsh side Denbigh which we won handsomely 54-7. This put us through to the cup semi final. In the Semi-Final the Penguins faced Old Green, a strong and physical French team. Despite early dominance by the French it was the Penguins who were to score first though a try by Nnamdi Chinye. The French came back strongly to score a couple of tries. Our second try by Rhys Davies should have levelled the scores but sadly we had missed one of our conversions meaning the French were in pole position for a spot in the final. However, we held our nerve and displayed impressive composure to build a winning score with the final play of the match - a try by Nnamdi Chinye to beat the French 19-14.

The Final against Gloucester Constabulary, the only other unbeaten side, was played  on the first team pitch in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd. Guy’s knew they would have to lift their game even further, and despite missing a couple of players who were awaiting outbound flights, went 2 scores ahead through tries by Nnamdi Chinye and Sam Milne (aka the Honey Badger). The police attacked relentlessly, but every Guy’s man stood tall and kept making their tackles with Greg Ryan punching way above his weight and age. Eventually, a couple of silly errors allowed the police side to claw back two scores to make it a tense 14-14. Gloucester were dominating at this stage but when awarded a penalty with minutes remaining controversially kicked a penalty to go 17-14 ahead - but at the same time alienate the whole crowd! Then in the last play of the match they sent the kickoff long.  Ben Thorpe picked up and ran the ball back, he passed to Tom Jackson and then the ball went through everyone’s hands, culminating in Peter Davis receiving the ball on the wing - to his great dismay. He managed to take out 2 defenders and pass to Andrew Vaughton who still had much work to do. He rounded the first defender and cut inside the final man to score the winning try under the posts. Cue rapturous celebrations from the entire squad.
Captain, Jamie Jackson (below) proudly claimed the tournament trophy. Incredibly, there was further silverware to be claimed by the Guy’s Penguins when Chris Howell was awarded the accolade of being the eldest player at 73 and 3/4 for his scrum cameo against Jersey.

Many thanks to our kit sponsors and to Raging Bull for supplying it: