Hey Team, Match Report – Tokyo Crusaders vs. Koryo RFC By Roy McGrath The Tokyo Crusaders got their Shuto League campaign off to a less than ideal start on Sunday September 20th, going down to an energetic and organised Koryo RFC side 39-12. Played in perfect conditions on the AstroTurf at Nakamine, it was a day where the Crusaders simply couldn’t get their game out of second gear. Koryo RFC dominated possession for much of the first half and scored quickly to earn a deserved lead in the early stages. Koryo played a quick and expansive game which the Cru tried to match with quick taps and quick lineouts, and this approach produced dividends early with a try to Rob Gailbraith around the 20-minute mark which was converted by Neil Howard. Things were looking positive for the Cru at this point as players like hardworking/hard-running no.6 Seth Robson and center Brendan Gallagher were starting to find holes in the Koryo defence. Unfortunately it was one-way traffic from then on as Koryo dominated possession and field position to take a 17-7 lead into halftime. Had it not been for some staunch defence at the end of the second half, the match could have been much further out of the Cru’s grasp. The Crusaders started the second half positively and built pressure on Koryo inside their own half. They started to get some go-forward with players like 2nd 5 Howard setting targets in the mid-field that provided, for the first time in the match, some relatively good quality second-phase ball for halves combination Atsu and Yoshiki to exercise a degree of control over the match with. The Cru were rewarded for their efforts with a try to no.8 Roy McGrath. At 17-12 behind, this was the end of the good news as Koryo took the game by the scruff of the neck and ran in a series of tries in the final quarter of the match to turn a close-ish game into a blow out. On the positive side, replacement winger Pierre looked likely throughout the second half, and will be even more dangerous if he can begin to bring distribution a a new dimension to his game. New players Andrew Corday, Lucas Grisotto and Sebastian also made their debuts and the Crusaders warmly welcome them. Some tough lessons were learned against Koryo, particularly in regard to holding possession to build phases/pressure, and playing to a pattern/in an organized fashion. The Crusaders will also need to either develop a kicking game or be prepared to run the ball from everywhere (this reporter is hoping for the latter). With a few more games under their belt, this squad showed it has the character to push for the Shuto League Division One title. Pierre Adams was named man of the match by Koryo and 1st 5 John San Lee was nominated as the Koryo man of the match by the Crusaders. MVP points went to: Roy McGrath – 5, Pierre Adams – 4, Atsu – 2, Rob Gailbraith – 2, Brendan Gallagher – 1 Don’t forget to check out the photos: check out the photos and read Seth’s report for Stars and Stripes. Cheer.