By Sean GibsonOn a beautiful autumn afternoon on November 3, 2013 the Tokyo Crusaders faced top-of-the-league Olivers RFC, in a much-anticipated match. Every man knew he must give it his all to even make a good showing against such a formidable team. And every man delivered. The match started out a bit rocky as some poor discipline and silly penalties inside our own 22 gave Olivers a couple of easy 3-pointers within the first fifteen minutes of the game. However, that would prove to be the extent of the Olivers’ scoring as the Cru pulled themselves together and put in a more-than-solid effort, both offensively and defensively. The tables were turned less than five minutes later when Andrew Doyle found a hole in the oppo’s backline a few meters out and went over the line, followed by Evan Hitchman’s conversion. Ten minutes later an attempted penalty kick by Evan came oh-so-close but ricocheted off the post. Not yet done for the half, however, Chris Ekstrom, who put in a dazzling performance in only his second game of rugby, scoring his first try of the day, and 4th try in two games so far, sped down the wing just before halftime to leave the score Crusaders 12, Olivers 6 at the break. A few substitutions at halftime saw the Cru prepare for the second-half, which we knew would be a struggle against a quality opponent. Indeed, it was a struggle from the whistle, as both teams hit back hard but couldn’t quite find their opponent’s try line or posts for the next 30 minutes. Awesome defense from the Cru seems to be a recurring and improving theme lately (touch wood) as many men stepped up and put in the hits and the chase-downs we needed to stop a feisty Olivers backline. However, with less than 10 minutes to play Chris (X) Ekstrom, going from strength to strength, added his second try of the day after taking a wide pass from Travis and powering down the left wing to touch down. 17-06 the score, Crusaders on top and in sight of victory. That might have been enough, but the Cru had a bit more in store. On a tap-and-go at the opponents 22, Frank Saffery created what was likely everyone’s highlight of the day by crashing the ball up at great cost to his body (and jaw), and leaving two Olivers bodies on the floor after the recycle. Be sure to watch the video on CRUtube – it’s likely to go viral. Shortly after, with no time left on the clock, Brett scooped up the ball on the right wing and sped past his opponent for the fourth try of the match to give the Cru a bonus point in the league tables. The successful conversion saw the score Crusaders 24, Olivers 6, and greeted the final whistle.
It was definitely a proper day out and a proper night out as well. Special thanks to all the supporters who came, particularly David Meisenzahl and his bevy of supporters, and to those who helped set up the ground. Also thanks to Cru old boy Luke Catenacci, who was in town from Hong Kong for the long weekend. Come back soon, Luke. Next match this Sunday (November 10) against Goddamns. Another solid opponent who should give us a good run for our money. Kickoff at 14:30 at Edogawa Rugby-jo, across the street from Edogawa Byoin (Edogawa Hospital). Hope to see many players and supporters there.
1. Chris Ekstrom (continues to shine – 3 points
2. Travis Dixon (always solid – 2 points)
3. Frank Saffery (channelingthe fur – 1 point)
28 points – David Meisenzahl and his crew
(OK, I took it upon myself to award that but I don’t think anyone’s going to challenge it)