Tokyo Crusaders vs Tokyo Doctors The Tokyo Crusaders Shuto league campaign kicked off in a hurricane, but carrying on from an excellent set of pre-season training sessions, the Cru boys turned up in a force to match it. Given the blowing wind, driving rain and a squad that included 6 new players, we knew this would be a tough game to win. Looking sharp and somewhat Argentinian in their new kit the Crusaders took to the field and immediately went on the offensive. 15 minutes of sustained pressure was soaked up by the Tokyo Doctors however, who seemed to be a much stronger outfit than the team we faced last year. Despite the territorial and possession dominance by the Crusaders, it was the Doctors who took the first points. The Cru kept pressing though, despite the conditions making it difficult to unleash the new weapons in the backline, and eventually they were rewarded when Sparrow flew into the corner. The rest of the first half saw the pendulum swinging each way, with both teams mounting sustained attacks. But protected both by excellent defence and typhoon-induced errors, the white-wash remained uncrossed and the score-line stayed at 5-5 going in to the first half.

The second half however was where the pre-season training really paid off. The scrums in the first half had ground down their forward pack and as the Crusaders forwards smashed into the Doctors, eventually their defence broke down. Owen and Sparrow linked up well in the middle of the field which allowed Rob Galbraith to dot down the first of his brace. (It should be noted that during the build up to this try, Sparrow bruised his wing and under advice from the opposition Doctors, was forced to leave the field wrapped in gold foil like a Cadbury’s snack). A missed conversion meant the score was still close but the Crusaders felt in control of the game, disciplined forward play and more solid defence building the confidence between the new group of players. However despite the possession and territorial advantage, the Doctors snatched another against the run of play, missing the conversion meant the scores were level. The Crusaders didn’t panic though, they stayed can and Travis Dixon (who had come on at full back and was the star of the second half) put a chip over the top to set up Rob for his second. The conversion was slotted and the Crusaders were 7 points up. The Doctors weren’t going to roll over and fought back, grabbing another try but the windy conditions meant the extra 2 points weren’t claimed and Crusaders had 2 minutes to hold on to their slender lead. And it was probably some of the best 2 minutes seen played by the team. Travis stole the restart and the Crusaders marched down the pitch with 13 phases of pick and go that the Doctors couldn’t counter. The clock had been run down and the Crusaders walked off the pitch with a hard fought win to their name. Man of the match was awarded to Travis Dixon for his second half performance and the managers award was given to new boy Yasu Yoshitaka for his awesome defensive work. 3-2-1’s 5pts – Rob Galbraith 4pts – Travis Dixon 3pts – Owen Morris / Yasu Yoshitaka 1pt – Brett Pentland-Smith

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