Warriors 1 was made up of, Craig McMillan, John McCarthy, Alan Lynch, Ronan O’Keeffe, Deirdre Mongan and Stephen Aylmer. Naomi O’Reilly and Martin Baxter were support staff for the weekend. After finishing in third place in last years Professional League Warriors 1 were aiming to go one better this year and make the final. Their Weekend started off against French side Toulouse.
The French had tipped themselves to be in the top three of the league leading up to the tournament, mainly to their new star player who had helped them win the French League last year. Going into the game the tactics were pretty simple, stop their fast guy! The game started off going goal for goal in the first quarter but already we could see the French fitness was nowhere close to ours as by the end of the quarter they were clearly starting to get tired. Using this to our advantage we kept the pressure up in the second and stared to turn them over. The game continued this way till the end and Warriors came out on top with a 50 - 45 win.
Warriors second game of the day was against the Munich Rugbears. This team’s line-up was quite similar to the French so we went out with similar tactics to our last game. These worked as planned and once again Warriors were on the right end of a 49 - 42 score line.
Day two and Warriors were tipping off against the Bochum Roadrunners. Having played and beaten the Roadrunners at last years tournament Warriors were confident of another victory. Once again our fitness and strong tactics were too much for our opponents and we won the game 34 – 28.
Next up was the Sitting Eagles from the Czech Republic. A victory in this game would put us through to the play-offs for the final so we were determined to win. We knew it was not going to be easy though as the Eagles had a good mix of players, all with a good bit of speed. Once again we relied on our superior tactics and teamwork. While the Eagles were able to press us hard due to their abundance of speed we were working better together as a team and by half time we were up by five points. In the second half we choose to go back to defence after each of our goals. This gave us the opportunity to take a breather and save some energy for the play-off match later that evening. This worked well and at the final whistle Warriors won the game 48 points to 36.
Our victory over the Eagles meant we were in the play-off for the final against last year’s runners-up the Nacka Spiders. Made up of current and former Swedish national team members this game was sure to be a tough one. The Spiders had the height advantage but we were even on speed and our fitness was much stronger then theirs. The game started out going goal for goal until midway through the first quarter when the Warriors won two turnovers in a row and took a three point lead. This rattled the Spiders’ and boosted the Warriors.
The game took on a very different mood from the second quarter. The Spiders clearly were not happy that they were behind and tried every trick in the book to pull back the deficit but there was no way we were going to give up our lead that easy. From big hits to a bit of trash talking we took it all and gave it back just as good as we got it and in the end secured our place in the final with a 41 – 34 win. After the game we were all friends again and we were congratulated on a game well played by the Spiders and by all of the onlookers who had been watching the game.
Day three and it was time for the big one, the final of the Professional league! We were all feeling excited and were confident that we were in with a good chance of claiming first place. Our opposition were The Reds from Poland. Made up mainly of players from the Polish national team who recently qualified for the 2010 World Championships, we knew that these guys would provide us with our toughest game of the tournament. Strong teamwork and patience was what we would need to win this game. Unfortunately we didn’t stick to that plan. The previous five games were clearly taking their toll on us and Red’s pressed us hard and forced us into a number of mistakes early on in the game. By half time we were down by seven but still determined to at least show that we had earned our place in the final. The second half was a much better performance but still not enough to get ourselves back into contention. When the final whistle blew we were on the wrong end of a 35 – 26 score line.
Even though we did not win we had reached our goal of making the final. We played some excellent rugby all weekend and like last year had made it further then ever before in the competition. The players and staff did a great job all weekend and together earned a well-deserved second place. With the team being made up of so many young and talented players I am sure that its only a matter of time before we come home from Germany with the first place trophy!