Summer sun sees shufflers struggle to bring the heat

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RE Shufflers vs Absolutely Chabulous

Tuesday 23rd May 2017, 8:20pm

As the summer sun beat down upon King George's Park, the Shufflers prepared themselves for a late kick off at 8:20pm. Though weary from a long day’s hard work, the Shufflers remained resilient; an admirable effort by the squad considering the number of players that were unable to take part: Venatrix still on tour in Boston, the Beeken Reeves gents and GKR members notably missed as well.

The prospect of the limited squad lasting a full 40 minutes with no subs was unlikely so an appeal was made for extra sets of legs. In true recruiter style, the team had no trouble bringing onboard Lauren and Tom (players from other teams in the league) with retainer fees and paperwork signed pitch-side. The new placements were happy to help out and the new look Shufflers were ready for their opponents, bottom-of-the-table 'Absolutely Chabulous' (AC).

On hand at the sideline, as key motivator and former member of the South African Cheer Squad 1999, was Nicole Petty, providing some much needed support and exquisite dance routines.

As the air horn signaled the start of the first half, captain Peter Clarke's weeks spent drilling strategy and rules into the team seemed to have paid off as the defensive line held quite nicely in the opening moments. AC were eventually able to sneak a try against the Shufflers but faced an immediate response from a clever-footed combo by Walter James's own Hervé de Klerck and skipper Peter Clarke. The Shufflers were working hard to stay calm and not let the match run away AGAIN, but AC soon broke the line and closed out the first half 4-1.

Following impassioned half time talks and heavy rehydration, the team were hopeful of a stronger performance in the second half.

Straight from the kick-off, AC displayed their complacency and turned over possession straight to the Shufflers, resulting in a breakaway try, scored by the dashing individual penning this very report. Walter James pair Laura Kittle and George Watson showed passing prowess to storm the AC’s try line on multiple occasions, but the team ultimately failed to capitalise on such valuable possession.

The improvements were clear: defence was strong, there were fewer drops, and passes were being made, glory-hunter status was no longer blinding the team’s judgement. After a flurry of tries by both teams and an injury to a key AC player (caused by a brave Emily Stuttard), hope was alive that the Shufflers could churn out a victory in the cheekiest of fashions.

Sadly though, despite an emphatic second half performance, the Shufflers were unable to earn their first win in the regular season and at the final blow of the air horn, the score stood at 4-8. With one game left in the season before semi-finals and finals, and the RE Shufflers rock bottom of the league, here’s hoping the team can grind out a spectacular upset against table toppers ‘Breath Takers’ and avoid a season whitewash.

We hope to see you all there. “Coach Abid Hamid, we need you. Now more than ever. Bring the troops to victory, and let us make you proud”.

Result: 4 - 8

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

Photo credit to Danica Grobbelaar, Operations Manager at GKR London