by Gen Hirano Mid Fall, the best rugby season through out the year, and it is the time for the big games. Koryo, as known as Korea Club is inarguably one of the best performing rugby club in Tokyo, who is recently challenging to compete in Kanto, greater Tokyo division, which is in a higher competition level. Crusaders, on the other side, still keep their hope for Shuto title if they beat Koryo, despite the loss on the previous weekend. Therefore the game on November 11 would be the decider who will win the Shuto league 2018. Head to Head for last 4 meeting is tied at 2-2. 2016 when Crusaders won their 2nd Shuto championship, the score went 59-0 for Crusaders, but reconstructing Koryo won 2017 meeting by 24-14. Same as previous match day, the Cru Corps is over 45, 30 men in blue and 15 supporters watch their action at sideline. The first 5 mins, Cru dominated the ball and stayed inside Koryo’ 22 meter line. Strong ball carries by Forwards, then Travis Dixon has been a threat at 10 to thrash Koryo’ backline. Crusaders seems crossed the try line twice in the first 15 mins. The try by David Limin was called crossed the touchline instead. And another touch-down at center was cancelled by referee for a penalty unknown. While Cru struggling with the calls the referee made, the Korean side seemed find their structures and started to be able to target ball carries by crusaders and made double tackle at times. A series of penalties blew against Cru took Koryo inside of Crusaders’ territory. Koryo sank two tries by driving maul from lineout at 5 meters line, which is often seen at Japanese high school level, a textbook strategy by well-drilled team in Japan. Cru fought back and down two tries by matador spin move by Rob Galbraith and Travis Dixon. Matt Sparrow made both conversions, Crusaders leading by 14-12 at the half time. Crusaders had a full depth on bench, few fresh legs also made strong drives in the 2nd half. But the team kept struggling to adjust to the call by the referee of the day. Crusaders maintained defensive line well, no major line break made by Koryo, except when Keith Wilkins, the inside center had been sin-bined. But in the 2nd half, Crusaders often forced to retreat by accurate kicking by Lee Jongsong, the Koryo’ No.10 as well as the MVP of the match. Associate with the fatigue, Crusaders spent more time in their own territory, ended up with Koryo nailed another 3 tries by the same driving maul strategy. The score line once went up to 14-31, yet Cru answered by another try and kept fighting until the last minutes. No need to mentioned that there was another try for Cru called off in the 2nd half. So there were a lot of “what if” crusaders awarded tries as it seemed. The referee admitted at the post match meeting that he was struggle to manage this level of the game, but the game was completed. The delight of the day was the solid performance by the team, and the troops made their way to Hachioji to enjoy beers at the pub afterwards. We may win or lose, but it was certainly a great rugby spirits to see on and off the field. The campaign of the Tokyo Crusaders for Shuto league 2018 carried on to Jan. 13 against Tokyo Doctors. Which will be silver medal match for the crusaders.

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