Improving shufflers still a few cards off a full deck performance

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RE Shufflers vs Allstars

Tuesday 16th May 2017, 6:50pm

Putting a heavy 13-3 defeat by ‘2 Bold 2 Touch’ behind them, the RE Shufflers had a point to prove against the previously well-beaten All Stars. With notable absences from the Venatrix squad, still away ‘on tour’ in the US, and other key team members, the game was always going to be tricky.

Squad captain Peter Clarke, sporting his favourite baseball cap, ran through the rules and strategy for good measure and the Shufflers were ready, itching to get out and wreak havoc on their opponents. Onlookers and casual dog walkers could sense the tension but chose not to stay, unappreciative of the full seriousness of a Putney/Wandsworth Tuesday mixed touch rugby league, bottom table match-up, the philistines.

Cloud descended on the 7:40 kick off at King George's Park and the All Stars got the game underway.

Some excellent footwork from the opponents early on saw Kings of Leon frontman/Beeken Reeves heartthrob, Michael Beeken, concede a cheap try. However his athleticism and vision saw the Shufflers valiantly fight back, setting up captain Clarke for a pacey run on the left wing, his mass and velocity carrying him swiftly to the try line. An emphatic and rousing musical fanfare from the sidelines by South African trumpeter Grant Kaveney was frustratingly not enough to distract the opponents as another three tries saw the Shufflers’ defensive faults exposed.

The red mist began to descend and a delicate touch was seemingly lost on Walter James's new boy George "Bruiser" Watson, as he floored an extremely verbal female opponent, an incident later described by the referee as "exceptional” and “fully deserved". The first half closed out with promise of a comeback from the Shufflers as Herve De Klerck, channeling his footballing flair from Lille U18s, proudly dived to score a try which would leave the score at a fair 4 - 2.

With it all to play for in the second half and an apparent improvement in fitness levels over the weeks, the Shufflers believed they could turn the game around.

The All Stars were not as bright as the name suggested, however sadly, the Shufflers also forgot to bring their WD40 and struggled to create chances, bar one try from Walter James CEO James Absalom, proving that grey hair slows no athlete. Nimble, “Billy Elliot”-esque Daniel Bull yet again failed to score his first try, despite fancy feet and equally flamboyant arm gestures and Ryan "The Doctor" Gorman should be praised for his courageous attempts to run forward and not sideways while in possession.

The light began to fade and so too did the hopes of an impressive comeback and first league victory for the Shufflers. The final whistle blew to close the game at a respectable 6-3.

Commendable effort and stamina were clear throughout, especially by Laura Kittle playing a full 40 minutes as well as the entire team showing significant improvements on previous games.

Honourable mention must be made to Recruitment Entrepreneur's Emily Stuttard for exquisite ball-handling skills and sheer bravery; running full pelt at the opposition, no matter the size of the obstacle.

With rumours circulating of a special appearance from coach and manager Abid Hamid next week, the Shufflers are confident they can turn this debut season around and deal themselves a winning performance.

Result: 3 - 6

Daniel Bull #5 – part time Match Reporter, full time Associate at Walter James

Photo credit to Danica Grobbelaar, Operations Manager at GKR London