76 – 14 Tokyo Crusaders RFC – BlueLions RFC Referee: Mr Kenji Kawamura
By Steven Howden On 27th April the Cru ‘amassed’ to take on the BlueLions RFC in our second game of the Tokyo Cup. Despite only loosing narrowly in our first game of the tournament, the peculiar workings of the Tokyo Cup (a PHD in Applied Mathematics required to fully understand it) meant that, as we were in the bottom group, we were already facing a relegation/promotion play-off match. The outcome of the day’s game would dictate whether we were playing the first or second-placed side in the Division below. The evening before the game, expectations were high as the email exchanges revealed a strong squad for the game. However, as the Cru assembled at the local train station, numbers were already dwindling and we were left with a team of 16, with at least a couple of those being supporters who would be forced to come back from injury/retirement. Nevertheless the team was still confident and ready for the challenge ahead. As is required in all Tokyo Cup games, we turned up the habitual ‘2 hours’ before the game, parading in line and having our finger nails checked. It was clear that the opposition team were having a harder time than us of getting the numbers for the game and it looked like we might be playing 7s instead. They assured us that more would join and the game would go ahead. But two minutes before the game, with only 14 players, they were forced to concede the Cup game 35-0, and we instead played them as a friendly encounter, 14 vs. 14. We would be lying if we didn’t admit that we were fortunate here; finishing the game with just 14 payers ourselves, with Matt Sparrow realizing no amount of tape would keep his knee in its socket. As ever, the Cru started the game slowly, spending much of the first 30 mins camped in our own 22. We did manage to score the first try against the play, with Tom Cocks bull-dozing over to score the first of his 3 tries, getting on the end of some slick forwards play. The opposition responded with two tries back to back, benefiting from a lack of organisation from the Cru (as we put most of our efforts into complaining to the ref) and their superior speed in the break-down. By the end of the first half the Cru had managed to pull back another two tries and we led at the break 17-14. We were confident that we were getting into our rhythm and could put into action our game plan of doing the simple things well and trying to build phases; something we had largely ignored for the first half. The second half saw the Cru stretching their legs and running in 9 tries without response to finish the game 76 points to 14. Four tries from Seth Robson in his first game back for a while, were of particular note as well as three tries apiece for Tom Cocks and Rob Galbraith. Some would say they benefited from some exceptional play from the scrum half (and definitely not the author of this article), who made his first appearance in that position for almost 20 years. At the 60 min mark, with the heat taking its toll and some of the venom waning from the Cru’s attack, our super-sub and Club manager, Tooley, handed his clip-board to Marc Sheratt , pulled up his socks and endeavored to provide fresh impetus to the Cru’s play. Late in the game he scored a solo wonder try, being handed the ball 5 metres before the line and managing not to fall over to put the ball between the sticks. In the end the game served as a good run-out and practice game for our relegation match in our efforts to survive in the top Division of the cup.