tenga
By Wyn Hughes.

It was hard not to feel a bit sorry for our opponents Doronco RFC, they are a better side than the final scoreboard suggested, but if you are not able to get the ball, then you are always going to be up against it, as they found out, with the Cru keeping the pill for the majority of the match. The day started with the usual officious checks of boots, pads and fingernails before a slightly abbreviated warm-up due to time and space constraints. The cru had a good turnout with a squad of 21 including a handy looking bench.

The lads were a little apprehensive as this was a semi-final and the first step towards the Cru being back in the Tokyo Cup 1st Division. The intent of the team was shown in the first 3 minutes of the game when first Rob went over, followed by Travis just 90 seconds later. Doronco seemed a little shell-shocked at the individual power that many of the Crusaders had, constantly getting across the gain-line. Doronco finally began to get some phases together, but some sturdy Cru defence and Doronco knock-ons kept them in their own half. The Cru were doing really well in capitalizing on territiory as each time we got into their 20, a try followed. Chris and Wyn bagged tries in quick succession and the Cru were 28-0 up after just 12 minutes. Despite this, there were some areas of concern, in particular, support at the breakdown was lacking as players were getting isolated and turned over. Evan was letting the team know he didn’t approve, and he has a point, against stronger teams we will get punished.

Galdric, who was a real workhorse all day, got himself a reward for his graft before the floodgates closed for a while, as a series of errors by both teams meant that a run of set pieces dominated play. Doronco started to show that they can be penetrative, especially in broken play, however, with Cru cover defense, their endeavours came to nought, and their spirit was broken by Rob grabbing himself a brace and Kyle and Yorkie touching down just before half-time to go 54-0 up at halftime. The only lowlights of the half being a lack of support at the breakdown and Yuki`s (who had a storming game otherwise) attempt to score under the posts resulting in him getting held up after having already crossed the line.

At halftime, being so far up on the scoreboard, Tooley decided to empty the bench with Gen and Paul Ralph on for Yuki and Yutaka respectively, Marc departed the front row with Eric coming on. Sean Gibson came in for Frank at lock, Seth replaced Rob on the blindside with Rob moving to the wing to replace Wyn. The Cru also swapped one massive unit in Pat Wheen for another in Jason Gall. The new boys showed they were fired up with Seth in particular putting in some big hits. Steve scored a cracker of a try almost immediately from the kick-off with his hard running being difficult to contain. Kyle and Chris showed what phenomenal athletes they are by both completing their ‘brace of tries’ in quick succession. Galdric also doubled his try tally for the day and looked to really be enjoying himself out there. With a twinge in his hammy, Kyle came off, leaving the Cru with 14 men for the remainder of the match due to Tooley’s 2nd half bench-clearing move. Shortly after, Doronco scored a try of their own following a barrage of phases on our line. It was commendable that Doronco continued to play hard despite the scoreline. With about twenty minutes to go the game began to lose shape as some tired bodies began to drop passes and Doronco frustration began to show with some off- the- ball niggle.

The final 15 minutes may as well be christened the Rob Galbraith show as he scored three more tries to take his tally for the day to 5. His play in the loose was excellent and resulted in him being the Cru man of the match. The day ended with the Cru one point short of a ton, with a score of 99-7. Galdric Porta received two points and Travis and Steve getting one point in the team man of the match. Honourable mentions go to Evan Hitchman who had an 81% success rate with his boot (especially impressive given everybody seemed to score in the corner) Yuki who was destructive in the loose and Frank who made some hard yards with the octopus arms.

Despite the scoreline, the Cru have a few things to think about before our play-off game. We have to be more decisive at the restart and claim the ball. Also the support for the ball carrier wasn’t up to the high standard we have been showing this season. On the bright side, the penalty count was 7-3 in our favour and this is a massive improvement from a few months ago. Also, it was good to see the boys keep their composure and discipline despite some niggle from the opposition with wayward hands in the ruck and some impeding of players off the ball.

Cheers to Jessie, Oskar and Incha who were our ballpeople. Also thanks to Elizabeth, Rui and Chiemi who ran the water for us. Thanks to Aiko S for being our records person and Aiko W as usual for her efforts on the medical front. It was good to have some support to from some of the Airforce boys, as well as Cristina and Evan Kerr for his ever-helpful comments on the sideline. From there, it was off to an izakaya in Nishi Kasai where we piled 19 people into a glorified closet, most of whom smelled appalling, but plenty of meat was eaten and more than a few beers had.

On a sad note, it may have been the final appearance for the Cru for Chris Ekstrom and Kyle Cotton who have been awesome for the club, not just because of their natural athleticism and tryscoring ability, but also their willingness to learn a new sport and quickly adapt to their position. Hopefully they will be able to play our final game of the season in June, but if not, thank you gentleman and good luck with your moves.

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