Tokyo Crusaders vs. Kurumi RFC 24-15 (W)
by Roy “Yorkie” Yorke

A 10:20 kick-off, on St Patrick’s Day, against a club which were billed as likely to provide us with one of our sternest tests of the season, was always going to sort the men from the boys. We started with 9 at the station including several players carrying injuries who hoped not to have to play a full part in the match.

On arriving at the ground a sense of impending doom rapidly deepened as we surveyed the scene: The opposition forwards, with 2 full packs at their disposal, were practicing scrummaging against themselves. Meanwhile 20 or so backs were running through their moves with alarming accuracy. All this while the groundsmen were busily sweeping any remaining soft substances from the surface of the ‘pitch’ in order to get right down to bedrock before kick-off.

Takushi Hayashi, who had turned up for his very first game with the Cru, made a few phone calls and managed to persuade his mate Kiyoshi Hamazumi to get out of bed and come and prop for us. Kiyoshi arrived 2 minutes before kick-off, allowing him ample time for a standard front rower’s warm up.

Sgt. Tooley was also on a recruitment drive and 2 Mitaka Allcomers who had turned up early to their practice were put to work. Fukutomi agreed to play and the other fella ran the water for us. Both did a stirling job, and Fukutomi was rewarded with a Crusaders t-shirt.

One way or another, despite Seth having to pull out during the warm-up with an unfortunate calf problem, we started the game with a full complement of 16 on the pitch.

Not surprisingly it was Kurumi who made the brighter start, enjoying the bulk of possession and opening the scoring with an unconverted try. Crusaders raised their game in response to this and having suffered an injury blighted second half of the season Roy Yorke, back in the role of full back, got Crusaders on the score board with a try in the corner. Kurumi then hit back almost immediately with another unconverted try.

However, ten minutes before the half Crusaders stunned Kurumi by snatching the lead as Danny Brown beat his man on the outside then cut in to score under the posts. Captain Evan converted.

As Kurumi threw everything at the Crusaders defence to try to go into half time in the lead, Danny Martinez, who had a storming game up to that point, suffered a game ending ankle injury. Under pressure, Evan tried a sneaky piece of play to slow Kurumi’s momentum. The ref was wise to his antics and showed him the yellow card. But the Crusaders defence dug in and at the end of the opening stanza the score remained 12-10 in Crusaders’ favour.

At half-time there was a sense that, rather than a damage limitation exercise, this had become an opportunity for a heroic, backs to the wall, victory.

As the second half got underway the Crusaders pack were making Kurumi long to be scrummaging against themselves again. Jonas made significant contributions in his strongest game for the Cru to date. The superiority at scrum time allowed Takushi to play like a… the kiwis will have to help me out here. If a fly-half is a first-five-eighth and a playmaking inside center is a second-five-eighth, what do you call someone who acts as a third half-back from the number 8 position?

Meanwhile Travis Dixon was his usual force with ball in hand. The burly fly-half was making barnstorming runs, fending off opponents like E. Honda with 100-hand slap and picked up a try early in the second half, converted by Evan, to extend the lead. He also seemed to win turnover after turnover in defence. Either by simply ripping the ball from the arms of attackers or by teaming up with Takushi to hold them up in possession.

Despite Crusaders swarming defence Kurumi were able to fashion a second half converted try of their own. But Danny Brown was in no mood to let the Crusaders lead slip away and went in for his second, again converted by Evan.

As the game entered the final stages Kurumi, with their extensive squad, kept coming but every Crusader was by this stage putting their body on the line in defence to hold out for the win. When the referee adjudged Kurumi had been held up over the goal line it proved to be their last throw of the dice.

The final score was 24–15 in Crusaders favour!

After the match we rewarded ourselves with a trip into the city to search for some Craic. As the black stuff worked its magic, new boy Takushi continued to perform strongly. He was one of the last to leave the pub and was going on to an Izakaya with 5 or 6 Japanese ladies in tow when he did! He claims he can’t remember what happened after that. However it will come as no surprise to anyone that Frank Saffery’s evening culminated in him receiving a life-time ban from yet another pub.

Player’s Men of the Match
1st – Travis
2nd – Taku
3rd – Danny Brown / Jonas

[flickr_highslide set=”vs_Kurumi_RFC”]

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