2 wins, 2 very different performances

Saturday October 27 RCL Men beat Nyon2 15-10, drawing 2-2 in tries. Unfortunately, RCL suffered from our regular problem if switching off (granted, sometimes it’s not switching on, as happened the previous week in the first half vs Wurenlos…).

In terrible conditions, RCL took advantage of the hill and the wind and scored tries after about 20 mins, and then right on half time.  Scrums were superb, and the backs were moving well.  However, Nyon2 fought hard, once they got a foothold in the game in the 2nd quarter.  They overturned an aggressive, quick start by RCL to balance much of the 2nd quarter.  By half time, things were looking better – 2 tries to nil up.  Injuries to key forwards, and a confident resurgence by Nyon2, made for a torrid 2nd half for RCL.  Pinned on our line for a lot of it, the pack were unable to deal with the Nyon2 spirit.  RCL conceded 2 tries in that half, and, were  rugby an 85 min game, Nyon2 would have stolen it.

Overall, RCL did not deal with some key problems: the resurgent, provocative Nyon2; and a referee who made a serious of curious decisions based on novel interpretations of the rules.  Perhaps most dangerous of all, however, was the overconfidence in RCL after such a strong start, and, despite a lax 2nd quarter, a good half time lead.  As with the “Ireland syndrome,” RCL have lifted their game superbly when faced with stronger opponents, but have been equally poor against teams we are confident of beating.  The former look like RCL are fighting for their lives; the latter look like pre-season training games…

A lot was asked of the pack before the game vs La Chaux-de-Fonds last Saturday, after such a poor match the week before.  Almost like a bad joke, RCL also were missing several key players* who have demonstrated leadership qualities.  It wasn’t looking good.  And, right in the first few minutes, those fears were confirmed with a demolition of our defense by a strong La Chaux-de-Fonds pack and a try for the Frenchies.  Still, RCL fought right back, against the hill, and scored soon enough with a great opportunist try – coming from great pressure on their backs, and a quick, intelligent response from RCL.

RCL also knew they had a battle on their hands in the scrum, after having literally been run backwards in the corresponding game in September.  However, RCL held strong for most scrums, and wheeled them nicely to neutralise many of their chances.  Importantly, the pack did not let several poor scrums demoralise them, and kept their energy for the open play where they rucked well.

This was a dirty game, and several RCL players reacted with cool heads to the La Chaux-de-Fonds provocations.  Punching and stamping was rife.  But all this showed was the the supposedly superior La Chaux-de-Fonds were rattled.  Maybe a smirk and a wink is the best response to a punch after all…  The reaction of the La Chaux-de-Fonds coach to his players’ behaviour was worth it…

Several less experienced players did well, and the substitutions brought a continuity and strength that we needed.  Despite the many absences, RCL responded well to the pressure, and players who had switched off the week before really performed.  While they were certainly a bigger team – in the pack and especially in the backs – RCL coped well.  Where tackles were missed, cover was superb.  A hardness had developed in RCL’s game, and we showed a dirty Frenchie team no fear.  What was so impressive about the victory was the amount of time spent in our own half in the second half.  The one-point victory (13-12; 2 tries each) belies the balance of play.  Concentration was solid and RCL killed off the game well.

Now for Fribourg: after 2 impressive wins against 2 tough Frenchie teams, no longer do RCL look at these games as nothing-to-lose.  These are now all winnable games.

*A big shout out to “Handbag”: hope the girly shopping in Germany went well, bro!

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