Here are a bunch of photos from Aiko. YCAC Match Report By Travis Dixon We couldn’t have asked for a sunnier Winter’s day in November to play our annual MacFadyen Cup match against the YCAC in Yokohama. I think the streak might have been long as six years in a row having lost this fixture, so the Cru, as always, were pretty keen to get their hands back on the cup. With the YCAC having pulled out of their league this year, we had heard reports that they were not as strong as previous years and that if we fielded a strong team we’d have a fair crack at the Cup. With over 30 players showing up for the match, selection was tough. Cocksy and I decided to go with size in the forward pack, as historically we’ve been beaten at set piece and by their running through the centre of the field. With Van, Seth and Pat making up the back three, we were confident they wouldn’t make many metres around the fringes, and we were right. However, they did have a very strong centre who opened the scoring with a clean line break at the 22. Scoring under the posts, the try was converted and the YCAC took an early 7-0 lead. For the next 10 – 12 minutes the Cru dominated territory and position, seemingly forever parked on the YCAC 22m, but we just couldn’t convert it to points. They did a good job sacking our malls from lineouts and stopping our forward runners. After a few phases, I managed to get over with my patented dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge (narrowly missing two flying islanders who were quite intent on decapitating me!). Neil converted to level the scores. The YCAC fired right back again with their centre scoring another converted try. At this point in the match, with the blistering pace of the game, it’s fair to say that a lot of the starting 15 were doubting if they’d be able to last the full match. We were sucking some pretty heavy wind as the tackling was as fierce as the running. Pat made some storming runs through the middle, not so much fending off players as assaulting them. This gave us good forward momentum and attacking opportunities. We were often out of position though, and running individually, as opposed to working in pods. This is partly due to fitness and also having different combinations each week. But, after many years of frustration, I’ve finally come to accept that that’s just how the Cru will always play – we’ll make individual breaks and then just hope that someone’s there for the pop pass; building pressure through phases just ain’t our thing. At this point in the match, at least, it seemed to be working. So, only a few minutes left in the half, Seth scored and then Neil scored his first try for the Cru, taking the score at half-time to 17 – 14. We made no changes at the half, as the game was such a dogfight that it would have been hard to come in cold and match the intensity from the beginning of the second half. The half-time message was pretty simple though – be patient and maintain possession and we’ll win. We put ourselves in difficult situations in the first half through basic mistakes, so we needed to eliminate these in the second and simply hold on to the ball. We came out firing in the second half and in the first 20 minutes it was pretty one-sided; it really did feel on the field that we had more to play for than they did. It began with Andrew Coday scoring a converted try within the first minute. Reece, who had some storming runs and worked hard all game, got over the line for (I believe) his first try for the Cru. The wheels seemed to be falling off the YCAC machine as they then dropped a pass in mid field and Pierre showed a safe pair of hands and a clean set of heels to run 50+ metres and dot down over the line for another converted try. The score was now out to 38-14 and if there were any non-believers in the club they were now converted. However, the remainder of the game possession and territory were dominated by the YCAC as they kept us hard on defence in our own 22. The fact that we conceded 13 penalties to their 4 in the second half didn’t help either, and Dom was given a yellow card for repeated off-side offences. A minute after this the YCAC scored and then scored again quickly afterwards with strong work in the forwards. This brought the score to 38-29. We watched the conversion anxiously as it could have put them within one try. Thankfully it missed and we knew we just had to wait out the clock and not make any mistakes. But their tails were up and they knew they were in the game. Both teams had made a number of subs by this point and the game had a whole new level of tension to it. The YCAC were desperate to get back over the line and their flanker (#7) seemed to have a whole new level of energy with ball in hand in the second half as he made storming runs around the park. They were running it from their own 22 line and the ball was going side-to-side across the park. We had to dig deep and do some serious work in those final few minute to hold them out. Thankfully, three minutes after their last try Mr. Lewis blew the final whistle and the celebrations began. Final score: 38 – 29. Having played in the last five cup matches that we’ve lost, it was a pretty nice feeling being out there with the Mac Cup in our hands at last. For me it’s a just reward and vindication for the amount of work that has gone into the club behind the scenes, led by Tooley and the Committee. We have a dedicated committee of guys who put in a lot of hours organising fixtures, getting sponsors, updating the website, recruiting, etc. I felt that was the difference on the field in that game – we were playing for our club, they were playing for a team. During the usual speeches in the club house Cocksy was voted our MVP and their #7, Mike Muripora was voted as theirs (by their own captain, but we would’ve given it to him anyway as he led from the front on attack and defence in the second half). We then tried our best to drink the YCAC out of beer as we had four hours to kill before our moustache party. By the end there were 30 + Cru members left in the bar, with the only others left being Simon Ryan (the YCAC Manager) and Steve the referee. On that note, it’s important to acknowledge Steve’s efforts on the day. I wouldn’t be envious of anyone having to referee this fixture. He did his best to keep a lid on things, with the pot boiling over just once, which is a pretty excellent effort. After the YCAC match we headed (noisily) to Sakuragicho and had some fun on the way with the world’s slowest travellator as a seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of pretty girls floated past. The party carried on at the Hard Rock Café where we had our annual moustache party. Earlier, Tooley had announced that through the Facebook ‘Like’ voting system, whatever that means, Aiko won the best moustache (that’s the internet for ya). Whoever didn’t have a moustache at the party had some soon drawn on by Cocksy or Neil; even the waitresses were getting amongst it. It was a bloody fun night actually. Within five minutes of turning up and standing at tables belting out some Bon Jovi classics and serenading girls who had lost that loving feeling, I asked the manager if we needed to be quiet. He smiled broadly and told us we were awesome and as long as we were having fun he didn’t have a problem (or at least that’s what I think he said; I don’t speak Japanese so I might’ve been mistaken). Nevertheless, this was the green light we didn’t need and the epic conga line around the restaurant a few minutes later (the video is floating round the interweb somewhere) was the icing on an awesome Mac Cup cake. Our MVP votes: 5 – Trav, 4 – Pat, 3 – Reece and Pierre, 2 – Cocksy, 1 – Van. Now I write this, I might be confusing myself – I remember Neil and/or Reece bragging about their first try for the Cru after the match, but I can’t remember which one, or if it was in fact both.