We went up to Omiya for the long trip to the Kempo ground for our first game of 2012. It was a new look team, with many Cru debutants on show which was great to see. Having 15 players an hour before kick off at Omiya was also something of a novelty! We got underway on a very cold and hard pitch with the bare minimum in the pack. Newcomer Nick did a storming job stepping up to prop for the full game having not played for over a decade! The full line up looked like this at kick off: Ryuji, Andy, Nick, Akira, Sean Gibson, Gen, Terry B, Sean Gerhold, Evan, Travis (c), Jonas, Paul, Ken, Yoshi, Matyas. Reserves: Tony, Ben, Geo, Duncan, Morgan, Jackson, Danny. In the first half we dominated play, won all our set piece ball, didn’t drop a ball and put some great phases together. Travis was looking good making breaks in the backs and Akira and navy Sean made some great busts up the middle to put us on the front foot. Ken scored a great try on debut after 8 or 9 passes, amazingly all going to hand to open the scoring. Aki and Matyas then followed suit and before we knew it, it was Crusaders 19-0 up. Unfortunately just before half time we let in a try to make it 19-5, but CABS had it all to do in the second half. At half time we gave our frozen subs a run with Tony, Duncan, Ben, Geo, Morgan, Danny and Jackson all coming on. Geo made a great impact in the back row and was all over the park, making some great covering tackles. Ben, Morgan and Danny all put in some big hits – some legal and others not, but all good nonetheless, and Duncan, Tony and Jackson tried their best to not freeze to death out on the wings – thawing out just in time to make some timely tackles when CABS were on the attack. With the wind at their back, CABS came fighting back and score a converted try, running through some tired defence to make it 19-12. A few minutes later the Cru struck back through a lucky try from Ev after a kick chase, regather and some good interchanging passes with Travis to put us up 24-12 with about 15 minutes to go. Next time we had the ball Travis and Tony tried to match Evan’s try (to no avail!) with Tony knocking the ball on with the try line begging after Travis’ nice chip ahead. A great call by the referee there too I must say – definitely touched Tony’s hands! :p For those the last 15 minutes though the Cru defence tired markedly and CABS put on 2 tries to make it 24-22 with 5 minutes to go. The game was in the balance and only some gutsy defence kept them from scoring in the last few minutes, Terry B making a notable try-stopper down the blind. In the end somehow we hung on to score a great team victory for the Cru and promotion to the First Division for the coming 2012 season. It was really great to see a new generation of Cru players out on the pitch and in the bar. I hope we can see all of you back next week for our game against the Navy and many more games in the future. A great atmosphere today, great teamwork and spirit – and hopefully you all enjoyed your rugby, just as much as I did today.