by Paddy Symonds

After the roller-coaster ride that was the rugby world cup, there was a sense of apprehension around the condition of our squad in the build up to this game. The culmination of October 2019 has seen many nursing broken livers, one broken face and several sure to be piecing together the fragments of broken marriages. Nevertheless on a cool Sunday evening, the CRU came to right previous wrongs after the drudging from Komaba in our last meeting. These wounds proved to be galvanizing as evidenced by an excellent show of spectatorship and the luxury of a full squad all of whom knowing full well that today’s game required a performance of the highest order.

From the kick off the CRU showed great signs of physicality in defence with some enormous hits going in early from the likes of Yon ‘Paku’ Park. However the opposition soon showed their skill in the backline with a set move leading to a try. The CRU needed a fast response. This came after putting together some well organized phases, fly half Suguru Matsumoto, spotting acres of space behind the defensive line put in a well-placed kick, chased and gathered by Hugo Mestre who backed himself stepping past two covering defenders and capping a beauty of a try under the sticks. Perhaps the only example of French flair seen for the past 20 years.

With hopes high after an immediate response from the boys, we were quickly put under massive pressure once again as Komaba made a line break into our 22. Always the man to put his body on the line for the team, Brett Pentland-Smith put in a try-saving tackle denying Komaba a score in the corner resulting in a broken nose that forced the captain off the field. At this point, with our team under pressure on our own try line, it quickly became apparent that the Komaba threat was not only in the flair and slick handling of the backline, but also with a very destructive and well drilled scrum that eventually won the opposition a penalty try.

Although Komaba were on many occasions being exposed by our kick chase(with Benji in particular putting a lot of pressure on the back three) for the remainder of the first half, the story remained much the same with Komaba continuing to rack up points,leaving the CRU with a lot of work to do in the second half.

More bad news towards the beginning of the second half as Komaba continued to run in tries. Komaba showed a lot of class with efficient breakdown work, deft handling and frightening pace with one CRU member nonchalantly stating “they’re a bit f###ing fast these aren’t they”. Fortunately the boys showed a lot of resolve and would not be defeated without a fight. Up against the pace of youth, the pack had to pull out some top shelf idiocy in an attempt to get under the oppositions skin. In short there were a number of cynical off the ball challenges going unseen that would have made Sebastian Vahaamahina reconsider retirement.

Towards the last quarter of the game there were significant signs of a momentum shift, notably with Tom Cocks making a superb line break, galloping like a gazelle down the touchline. Komaba were eventually exposed once again by Suguru spotting a gap in the middle of the field to run in the second try for the CRU. The boys at this stage taking a much slower approach to the game starting putting some phases together, Keith Wilkins making a strong carry to get across the gainline and a third try finished off by Benji. Much deserved after a lot of heart to bring the scoreline back to a respectable figure. Rightly the final whistle blew with the boys fighting for a fourth try on the opposition line.

Komaba voted Hugo Mestre as their man-of-the-match. This man has quickly become a potent threat in the CRU backline and will continue to do great things at this club, providing he can keep his elbows to himself.

The following players were nominated for 321’s:

Mestre, Hugo 5
Cocks, Tom 4
Matsumoto, Suguru 3
Riley, Jacob 3
Sugimoto, Yoriaki 2
Park, Yon 1

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