by Reece Morgan

Emails from Hiro are generally a cause for concern, but the news was wonderful: Yellowbacks couldn’t field a team. We’d won by default! Although we had decided to offer Yellowbacks a friendly game, and so didn’t tell the masses for fear of what would happen, those in the know opted to enjoy some libations, now that the game had lost its importance. Aiming to take the most of this, Reece headed off to Shichirin to get smashed; Cocks looked forward to another day of not being there; and Sparrow gave himself to the tender embrace of Downer and Gorman’s wallets.

The sheer panic when Hiro emailed after midnight to say that the game was back on was palpable. His kit abandoned in some Roppongi joint, Sparrow made the flight over and the team assembled down at the ground to a familiar sight: all the flankers, none of the backs. With Rob banished again to the back line, some clever re-jigging saw a fired-up squad take to the field (Yuki moaning about how he couldn’t prop aside) and the game began in earnest.

Instantly, the clouds opened and a golden ray of sun fell upon Brett, as angels began to sing. After a single ruck, the gods’ chosen one made a break all the way to the opposition try line, before taking the restart and doing it again. A lack of restraint in defence gave a penalty, and allowed the Yellowbacks to slip back in, but Brett made his way in for another try – his third in the first fifteen minutes. With the Cru then pinned down on their defensive line, big shifts by Tom Cocks and Menno kept the opposition at bay, and the boys in blue lined up to beat the Yellowbacks down the wing. This they managed: noticing a massive blind-side gap, Owen and Foster’s quick hands gave Reece a long break down the wing, popping it back to the golden boy with twenty metres to go. Although Brett bumbled the return pass, the two had made enough ground for Reece to repeat Logan’s ‘whoops!’ moment, ignore Ev’s request for the ball and ground it under the posts. A similar move then followed, but with Seth on the receiving end, handing off the full-back in the face to score his first of the season.

The Yellowbacks, suitably fired up and out for blood, scored two in quick succession before the restart, claiming a third after five minutes of hard work afterwards. Disappointed with Brett’s lack of tries in the last few minutes, the gods directed their glory to Jon Ball, who scored an unbelievable…break away?…try down the wing, an 80m trundle with opposition bouncing off him as he went. Ten minutes later, Foster capitalised on the Yellowbacks injuries for another Crusaders try.

At this point, it was quickly becoming apparent that the Crusaders weren’t in the best of shape. With few subs and injuries mounting, the back line had become an almost all-flanker party, with Brett and Rob in the centres and Reece on the wing. This lack of depth meant that the Cru resorted to their usual tight game, which wasn’t working – indeed, the Yellowbacks slipped in for another try. A mammoth charge by Foster took another try, immediately answered by the Yellowbacks, before G-sup rounded things off with a try of his own. At 55-36, the Cru were victorious, earning the right to defend their first division spot. Captain Tom Cocks took the opposition MVP spot for a Shire horse-esque work-rate, with the opposition 8 taking our selection.

MVP Points were:
5 – Ares Apollo Brett
4 – Cocks, Reece, and Foster, the holy trinity
3 – Sticky Menno
2 – No-hands Morris
1 – G-sup

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