by Owen Morris

This was our first game against the NYK Buffaloes; a name which sent shivers down the spine of
many of the players, invoking images of John Gorman appearing from a dark corner to fire
accusations of right hand drinking on an unsuspecting Crusader.

However once we got to ground we decided this was a game we would be more than happy to play.
It was a beautiful day for rugby, and a beautiful ground overlooked by the Ajinomoto stadium.

Thankfully this game was a friendly, a rescheduled Shuto League match that the Buffaloes were
unable to play, because it was clear from the oppositions first try that this would be a long day for the Crusaders. We dug deep though, and once Tom Cocks was substituted off after 15 mins we were able to get some go-forward with Brendan making some barnstorming runs down the blind-side, one of which was finished off by Aaron with some help from some strong work around the fringes by Hiro.

Unfortunately some of the individual skills of the Buffalo back row prevented the Crusaders from
putting together phases, although when we did and were able to get the ball through the back line, Andrew Matyas and Taku were able to show why they had been missed recently.

The second half continued much as the first half had done, with one large difference. That difference came around 25 mins in, after Cru had put together a few decent phases just inside the Buffalo half. The opposition back line was spread, and with a large open-side there were plenty of gaps for the Crusaders to run at. A long pass from the base of the ruck found Tom Cocks, with acres of space in front of him, but using his extensive experiences, Tom strategically avoided the gap and ran straight for the defender. Realising his error, Tom conducted a move straight from the Balshoi ballet; gripping the ball with his left hand, and right arm thrust above him at the perfect cocked angle he pirouetted on the tips of his right foot. Those close to the scene also claim the sound of a perfect high g-sharp emitted from his voice box as he completed this angelic motion. The defenders were shocked, and fell to the floor in reverent stupor. After taking a few more steps towards the line, and in order to prove his momentary divine status, he selected the most risky pass of the many options on offer and Sparrow finished off the try.

Such was the magnificence of this moment that it earned Tom MVP, despite his performance for the
rest of the match.

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