MK Wolves produced a brave fight, but ultimately came up short in their East RL Shield final – losing 38-16 to St Ives Roosters on Saturday.
Wolves put in a towering performance against a very strong Roosters side in what was easily the biggest game in the club’s short history.
Taking on a well organised and experienced St Ives side, Wolves were always going to face a tough time at the North Herts Crusaders’ ground in Letchworth.
Wolves were also beaten 90-12 by the Roosters in their opening game of the league season back in May, but they improved markedly on that dismal showing in sweltering conditions in Hertfordshire.
The city side began pretty well, and after St Ives opened the scoring with the first try of the final, Wolves hit back in style with a score from Gav Whitehead to level the scores at 6-6 – Scott Aspinall kicking the conversion.
But then it was all one-way traffic as St Ives found gaps to score a further five tries and take control of the contest as the first half ended 30-6.
Some sterling defensive work from Wolves made sure St Ives had to work for their tries, and they prevented the scoreline being even heavier.
Wolves began to play some great rugby – communicating well, committing to tackles, and forcing St Ives to chase the ball.
And Wolves then went on to dominate the second half. Despite conceding the first try, the city side bounced back to restore a great deal of pride.
Wolves were back on the scoresheet on the hour mark when a tremendous burst of pace from Oli Fountain saw him exploit a gap in the St Ives defence to burst through and touch down their second try, with Aspinall converting.
And their third and final try to earn a second half win came again from Fountain as he chipped the ball over some St ives heads straight into the hands of Ollie Taylor.
“From the outset we made some unforced errors which gave momentum to St Ives,” said Wolves head coach Abe Kerr after the game.
“And they exploited the frequently good field position and a lack of understanding amongst our players to score a series of well worked tries to build a first half lead.
“However, the latter stages of the first half, and the whole of the second half, was much better from MK. The jubilant reaction of the St Ives players at the final whistle proved that they knew they had been in a real contest, especially when compared to the whitewash of under eight weeks ago.
“I’m pleased that the spirit of the Wolves re-emerged as it had in the second half against Cambridge in the semi final.
“We showed real passion, we tackled in numbers, and we communicated well. We know we need a settled squad who train and play regularly together, but we are building numbers of players who want to pull on a rugby league shirt and represent MK Wolves.
“Coupled with improved fitness, better understanding, defensive communication and ball use, that will result in us becoming more competitive in the league, both this season and next.”