RCL1 8 – 28 Bern1
If there is one word that was written all over the performance of RCL I this weekend then that word was commitment. This was a very spirited performance on the pitch characterized by a never-say-die attitude which was played out till the last.
Luzern were up against quite a well-organised, highly experienced side who had amongst their players a couple of Swiss internationals. Bern looked to be quite a heavy side up front, who looked as if they were expecting a smaller side to somehow surrender to size. Bern must have felt some affirmation of their expectations on winning the first scrum, only. What they cannot have known was that they would be responded to with double the force. And that is exactly what happened. Luzern concentrated their energies and took Bern apart from the second scrum of the game, which was to set the tone of the scrums for the greater part of play.
Indeed, the first half was well won by the RCL forwards, and the try following on from the line-out throw to the front proved to be a great point scoring weapon. This had been a bold decision – to kick for the corner when three points were begging before the goal posts – so all credit Sami in this instance for having the courage to go for five points instead of an easy three.
RCL stayed on top for most of the first half and played most of their rugby down in the opposition’s territory conceding only a few minutes of play in their own half. When RCL was being attacked they showed great resolve and tackled with precision following through on their commitment in the tackle area. Just to add, there were some really crunching tackles made, the thump audible from the touchline!
The second half was a slightly different matter and despite the fact that Bern had the wind behind them, the slope of the pitch in their favour they played a lot less rugby in the RCL half of the field than could be expected. Indeed, RCL played significant amounts of time with the ball in hand in the opponents’ territory, which is the sign of a resilient and patient side. Sadly, possession and territory in the first 15 mins of the second half only produced 3 points. This – the cool, calm, deliberate translation of possession and territory into points – is something more time and experience will resolve.
Other key learning issues are kicking – in terms of (a) receiving and supporting the receiver, (b) defensive clearances and (c) offensive positional kicks. The whole back division is responsible for their own practice (all you need is a field, a ball, and a target!), but these are issues that will also be addressed in training.
As the match wore it, it was becoming clear that you simply cannot replace the scoring machine of any team – the #10-#12-#13 axis – with players – top quality as they are – inexperienced in those positions. It was terribly frustrating to see such talent unable to unlock a good Bern defense. Still, given the changes imposed on Luzern in the back division, the backline played brilliantly. Likewise, the lesser experienced players shone out on the day.
When RCL maintained their composure, held their line of defense, and kept making those first tackles, there were times when they looked impenetrable causing the opposition to lose patience and finally give away possession. This is the mark of a good side. The flashes of brilliance: the breakaway runs, speedy forwards carrying the ball across the gain-line, those crunching tackles from everyone in the team, do not however outshine one thing. This was a determined and gutsy performance. Alas, a 10 min phase in the middle of the second half ruined Luzern’s chances. Bern, it must be said, were clinical in their execution. Despite the score-line and despite having to go back to the re-starts, there was no quarreling, there were no heads down, there was only fortitude and resolve written on the faces of RCL I today. That is an attitude deserving of admiration!
Man of the Match: Tobias & Kevin (Nominated: Belushi)
Twat of the Match: Wurst (no real reason; he just looks good in a dress)