50 – 21 Tokyo Crusaders RFC – Olivers RFC Referee: MR ADACHI
By Rob Galbraith It was a Sunday and the sun was shining – this was the usual pre-text to a Crusaders Shuto League game of late and the 9th of November was no different. The Cru had suffered an agonizing defeat the previous week to the Tokyo Gaijin and in doing so, all but surrendered the Shuto League crown, and the question was… how would the Cru react and how hungry were they to claim second spot in the league? Things didn`t start too well, although some exemplary leadership by Ev Kerr (maybe it’s the `tache that gives him that extra sense of authority) meant we were able to navigate our way into the “stadium” (by climbing over the perimeter fence). The layout of the stadium didn`t make for a productive warm up- I for one have never conducted a rugby warm up between a discuss circle and a javelin runway- there`s a first time for everything! The rather limited space for the warm up left the Cru rather half-baked and Trav commented before half time that we would need to climb up a gear from being 50% conditioned before kick off to being fully committed to all aspects of the game. Whether the team answered to the rallying call or whether the rather unusual warm-up conditions worked a treat, who knows, but the Cru were three tries to the good within the first 10 minutes. A try each through some trademark wing-play from Pierre and Dom was followed by a break by Trav who passed the ball onto Rob G who then flung it out to Seth in support to finish off a great team move. Olivers RFC were certainly stunned by the electric start but managed to find their way into the game with a try five minutes from half-time giving the Cru a slender 10 point lead at the break. The second half started in many ways like the first, with a Cru try within 3 minutes. Pierre again showed some great footwork and a dazzling turn of pace to touch down and Evan duly converted. Olivers briefly scored again to narrow the gap back to 10 but then came a period of Cru domination with three converted tries within the space of 5 minutes. A try a piece by Dom and Pierre to give them each a hat-trick and one by Clive who cut a neat line before touching down under the posts- his first try for the Cru. Olivers were rather gifted a try in the final minute when they took a quick penalty to scythe through an exposed Cru defence. The final score read Tokyo Crusaders 50 Olivers 21. The game was refereed by Adachi-san who had refereed a few of Cru`s Shuto League games and although we had grown accustomed to his strict refereeing (especially at the breakdown) we still conceded 15 penalties versus winning 9. This is certainly an area for improvement for the Cru and I include myself in saying that we need to learn to play to the referee better in terms of knowing which areas he is extremely strict on (whether rightly or wrongly in our opinion) and which areas he doesn`t referee so strictly. That said, our attitude towards, and relationships with referees have certainly improved during the season! Special mentions A special note of thanks to all the supporters and club staff that turn out week in week out – without you the Cru would certainly not be anywhere near the club that it is. Tooley who pulls the strings from the sidelines; Aiko who takes care of the wounded, takes photos and generally cracks the whip when necessary; thank you to Clive`s son, Matt, for running the line and thank you to the wives and girlfriends including Cristina who always provide much needed vocal support from the touch line. We were also fortunate to welcome a special guest, Christian Castro, who was over from Geneva and joined the supporters on the touchline as well as attending the after match function which took place at the Park Hill Restaurant near the stadium. A final note of welcome to Chris Cornute who played his first game for the Cru- an absolute giant of a figure and terrific asset to the team going forward, we hope to see you on a regular basis! 3,2,1s With all eight tries being scored by the backs and a hat-trick for Pierre and Dom respectively it was a well-deserved 5 points to Dom and 4 points to Pierre; 3 points went to Frank who put in a try-saving tackle and was as busy as ever clearing out rucks and winning lineouts; 2 points went to Rob G and 1 point went to Cocksy and Matt Sparrow both who had sterling games- some great steals and breaks from the former and some great lines and breaks from the latter.