Swann gets one over on Wild Geese as winger’s debut try helps Blues beat in-form Irish
Robin Swann scored on his debut as Newbury Blues produced a remarkable performance to edge past previously unbeaten London Irish Wild Geese 19-17 at a packed Monks Lane.
Swann, hailed by head coach James McAvoy as the “fastest player on either side”, scored a superb solo effort just before half time as Blues came from 12-3 down to lead 13-12 at the break.
Nine points from the ever-reliable boot of skipper Dan Thorne, including a decisive penalty in the 74th minute, as well as a well-taken try from Luke Boyt that followed excellent work from debutant Euan Lindsay, just three weeks after the Scotsman moved south of the border, helped Blues to an impressive win over a side that had won six from six prior to arriving in West Berkshire.
“It just felt like there was something in the air,” McAvoy said.
“We had a specific game plan and we executed it perfectly. Sometimes you have days when, as soon as you arrive at the ground, you can just sense there’s something there, that something good might be about to happen.
“Just little things: the mood in the dressing room, Dave Shields had new tops to give out, the team photo, the mascots. It was all there for us.
“As I parked my car at about half-past 12, there were three gentlemen in their 70s – I’m sure they won’t mind me saying that – walking into the club with their Blues shirts on. It’s easy to forget that people take time out of their day, money out of their pocket, to come and support us. So we wanted to use that as motivation and it all came together to make it a special day.”
McAvoy made nine changes from the comfortable win over Salisbury – most of which were enforced due to injuries or absence – with try-scorer Swann in particular impressing on the wing after a prolific spell with the Stags. And while McAvoy was delighted with debutants Swann and Lindsay, he was also full of praise for the squad's more experienced players, including match-winner Dan Thorne, who has over 250 Blues caps to his name.
McAvoy said: “Robin is a bit of a success story. The boys have known him for a while because he’s been coming down to touch on Monday nights, and a few of them said to me that he’s the fastest player they’ve seen.
“We think about super-strengths and Robin’s got one. He’s the fastest player on the pitch. You can’t teach that.
“He got one opportunity and he took it exceptionally well.
“I texted Dan after the game. He’s been so good for so long that we almost expect these things from him. He gives us so much, he’s massive for us.”
Last season, Blues were just about the only side to take runaway champions Marlborough the distance – and McAvoy feels Saturday's showing is further proof his side are a team for the big occasion. The weekend's win was built on a solid defence, with the hosts able to limit a side that had scored 245 points across six games to a meagre 17, and the Blues boss admitted his pride at his side's staunch rearguard action.
“We do have the ability to do this in big games, we just need to harness it so it becomes a more regular feeling,” he said.
“Now this group of players know that feeling, I think it will be easier to find it again.
“We’ve spoken a lot about defence over the last couple of months and I think that won us the game, I couldn’t be prouder.”
Blues now have a week off before another big game, a trip to fourth placed Winchester, on November 4.