Tokyo Crusaders vs. Setagaya RFC 5-5 (D)
by Evan Hitchman

With many regular guys out injured, away skiing or suffering from severe bruising to the forehead from their better half’s thumb we did well to scrape together 20 willing lads to take on the unknown quantity of Setagaya RFC. Navy boys once again made an important contribution squad-wise with 9 guys making the long, tortuous 3 hour trek from the station to the ground which Tooley assured us was just “round the corner”!
Starting team was as follows:
Brandon, Patrick, Yutaka, Alex Diaz, Sean Gibson (c), Evan Kerr, Marcus, Mo; Ginger Sean, Jordan, Koki, Justin, Nash, Nestor, Wyn.
Res: Disco Stu, Marc, Andrew, Orey, Mason.

In a scrappy first half on an absolute dustbowl there were few highlights to recall. Both teams struggled with the wind and a lot of panic passes saw about 400 scrums pack down in the first stanza. The positive thing being our scrum was rock solid, winning 3 or 4 penalties for wheeling and totally dominant. Our pre-match intention to tighten it up at the breakdown and keep body positions low didn’t eventuate and we ended up getting a schooling or should that be “Tooleying” at ruck time. Setagaya went in low, hard and in numbers – much like kiwis around a 1 cent coin. A very good lesson for the new players in how important body position and technique is in this game.

As the old adage says – “you can’t win a game without the ball”. In the first half we knocked on, threw silly passes or got turned over at the ruck too many times and so saw our back 3 get very little ball. Having said that the opposition was almost just as bad in not holding onto the ball and our defense held solid to get to half time at 5 apiece.

In the second half with a lot of changes in the pack we still managed to win our scrum ball and were a little better at breakdown time winning most of our own ball. With a make-shift backline missing a certain bald, hairy antipodean we struggled to get quick ball to our new go-to man “Nash” who had a blinder in the centres. Cru had the better of limited chances but each time we got into Setagaya’s 22 we managed to knock it on, or get isolated trying to pick and go one time too many and get turned over when we had an 8 man overlap out wide (we won’t mention any names – S.Henwood)! . Before we knew it the game was over and we had our 2nd straight draw. Seth arriving just in time for the after match debrief!

Afterwards we had a good piss-up with some of the opposition players from Setagaya and managed to not drink them out of beer, but drink them out of glasses and jugs! We had a teapot full of beer at one stage I recall.

All in all, after looking like not fielding a team earlier in the week it wasn’t a bad effort against a fairly solid opponent. Thanks one and all for those lads who did turn up. Lots of guys making big improvements with Evan Kerr, Brandon and Alex Diaz all improving and making strides with each match.

Still 4 or 5 games to go at least before the end of the season and a big round-robin tournament and rugby festival in April – so don’t think the season is over!

Let’s work hard and get some practice and combinations happening now while we have the chance before a big Shuto League season starting in September, when unfortunately we won’t have the luxury of having our Navy friends to help us out as much as they have been.

Player’s Man of the Match
1st – Nash
2nd – Patrick
3rd – Sean Gerhold / Orey

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