The second half of the season began on Saturday with the long bus ride down to France and a match with CERN. The Wildcats were unlucky with injuries in the return fixture before Christmas, but this weekend they managed to put out a full side which meant everyone on the RCL was very excited to play a proper match, but also wary that we would be playing a much stronger side this time.
There was some disruption to the team before the game when first-choice scrum-half Hannah had licensing issues that could not be resolved in time. After some discussions between coaches and players we were grateful to Lea for stepping into the role, despite having never played there before.
It was clear after the opening exchanges that it would be a very tough, physical match. CERN competed at every breakdown and retained possession at the ruck with some ease. Their forwards had plenty of power and gave good possession to the backs. As always, the tackling of the Dangels meant that despite little possession early on, our tryline was never really threatened.
Quickly, the RCL pack began to assert their authority. Counter-rucking, jackaling and wrapping-up of the opposition ball-carrier saw the backs receive good possession. CERN were penalised for hands in the ruck and Lolli made a great kick into touch about 15 metres from the opposition tryline. After keeping possession at the lineout, Angie took the ball forward. The forwards rucked over, Lea passed to Sarah S who gave a simple pass to Sarah Mac running on at pace under the posts. Lolli converted to make it 7-0.
With the momentum now in their favour, Luzern began to dominate. CERN’s kick-off didn’t go ten, leading to a scrum on half-way. Although the scrum was lost, some brilliant counter-rucking from the forwards allowed the backs to get their hands on the ball again. The ball went to Esti, who ran like a maniac, breaking three tackles, to score a fantastic try which was converted for 14-0.
Once more the ball was quickly established in the CERN half. After the referee blew for another rucking offence by the home side, RCL took the penalty from the right side of the pitch and passed it all the way to Viola on the left wing, who ran through into the corner for her first Dangels try – nice one Viola! 19-0.
Despite the scoreline, CERN were still making RCL work hard for their points. Tackling was ferocious from both teams and with 30 players on the pitch, it meant space was difficult to find. However Esti once again showed great speed and strength to break through a gap in the centres, drew the opposition fullback and put Lolli over the line. 24-0.
After another penalty in the ruck, CERN had a player sent to the sin bin just before half-time. This allowed the Dangels to make the most of their extra player. A superb long kick from Sarah S within her own 22 was chased upfield by Carien and Lolli. A favourable bounce allowed Carole to beat two players and almost certainly score – however one of the covering CERN players dragged her back, leading to a penalty try being awarded by the referee. This was converted to make it 31-0 at halftime.
It had been a brilliant performance from the girls, but we knew it had to continue in the second half. The first ten minutes after the restart saw few opportunities for either side. The Dangels had plenty of possession but CERN tackled well and closed down any available space. It was clear that the home side were tiring of tackling all day long and finally the constant pressure from Luzern took its toll. A simple break through the centre from Sarah Mac got good support from Lolli, who took the ball and went under the posts. 38-0.
Mirjam came on for Tammie at flanker and Henni replaced Viola on the wing. The substitutes kept the high level of their teammates and it shows the quality of the whole squad that changes like these do not disrupt our performance.
CERN were again put under pressure near their own line from the kick-off. A good clearing kick took the ball close to halfway, where Schlumpf collected the catch after a wicked bounce. The pack were quickly in support and after more good hard running from Julia, Cynthia, Marlen and Eva in taking short passes from the back of the ruck into the opposition tackles, the ball was passed wide right to allow Lolli a clear sprint up the sideline and another try. 43-0.
From another relentless attack of forward ball-carrying, the backs once more had good possession in the centre of the field. Lolli took possession, was tackled but got her pass away to Henni. She was just held up close to the line, but got the ball to Esti who stepped outside her opposite player and managed to dive over for the try. 48-0.
With Carien getting a bad knock it was time for Priska to make her debut. And she nearly made the most sensational debut of all, providing incredible support to Lolli who once more made a stunning break up the right touchline to score our final try. A brilliant conversion from miles out made the final score 55-0.
A great performance from everyone. Every single one of our forwards took it on themselves to run with the ball. Hildi competed superbly at the front of the lineout, stealing balls from the opposition and clearly having grown in confidence from her outing with the Swiss second team. Lea was absolutely superb in her last game of the season, constantly putting the opposition scrumhalf under pressure. More gametime for Mirjam and a promising debut for Priska.
Many thanks to CERN for the great hospitality after the match as always – they will be a really tough proposition for the other teams, make no mistake.
Angel of the match: Lea, for stepping into such an important position at the last minute and still putting on an absolutely superb performance.
Devil of the match: Carole, for not passing to Priska when she was in support at the end of the match! Was 3 tries and a penalty try not enough for you?!! 😉
Beers for: Hannah – everyone played their butts off to get the win for you. There are still 3 matches to play in!
Viola – First try in the Luzern kit and a great game all-round, well done!
Mac – Woman of the match from the opposition. As usual, if you talk loud enough on the pitch, you get noticed 😉 (But superb performance as always Captain!)
Pictures from the day: http://www.barthmedia.ch/Rugby/galleries/900_2014-03-15_CERN_vs_LUCERNE/
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