The Women’s Swiss XV Championship is almost retained for a fourth consecutive season after an outstanding team performance in Neuchatel on Saturday. Playing the nearest challengers on their own pitch, the home team were boosted by significant support from the first and second teams of Bern and Neuchatel on the sidelines. However Luzern went into the lion’s den and came out with a hard-fought victory in a physical game that tested every ounce of character in the squad.
Rucking had been significantly worked on in the previous week after a lacklustre performance against Zurich. The result of this hard work was there to see as Luzern tore into the Entente pack from the very beginning, receiving the ball and attacking immediately through the forwards, recycling ball well and not giving the hosts a chance to get near the ball. The forwards pushed their way into the Redzones 22 and the ball was spread wide left to Edith who had the simple task of running in at the corner.
The home team responded immediately from the kick-off, as a couple of penalties allowed the Entente to continually push Luzern back to within 5 metres of their own line. Finally they barged over the line despite brave tackling holding them up. The conversion meant Luzern trailed trailed 7-5 after ten minutes.
More home pressure was rewarded when a miscommunication in the centres allowed a clear gap for the home outside centre to speed through and score under the posts. Another conversion meant Luzern trailed by 9 points.
The questions were being asked – how would the Dangels respond? Like Champions. From the kick-off, Luzern pressed hard to win the ball. From a ruck turnover, Esti received the ball and broke through the inside centre to make ground up towards the 22 metre line. After the forwards secured the ball, it was spread wide to Edith who handed off two challenges to score in the corner once more. The score was 14-10 after twenty minutes and the crowd were being treated to a top-class match.
The pressure of the occasion began getting to a couple of players on both teams, as Luzern received a white card for repetitive hands in the ruck and the Entente a yellow card for the first of several high tackles on Edith, who has been targeted this way many times this season – but always just getting on with things straight after.
At half-time, despite trailing, it was a happy and smiling group of girls that gathered round near the half-way line. It is a pleasure to play in such close and thrilling matches and everyone knew it. This is why we play rugby, for days like these. It was a massive examination that the whole squad was under and everyone was in no doubt that we would go again in the second half and give everything to get the victory.
It didn’t take long for Luzern to go back into the lead. The team came out with all guns blazing at the start of the second half, dominating all over the field and pushing the Entente back to within ten metres of their line. The ball was spread wide through all hands in the backs, the best passing of the game, to set-up Edith for a run in under the posts. Carole duly converted to give Luzern a 3 point lead at 14-17.
Once again the second half saw both teams exchange big tackles and scramble for possession of the ball. 15 minutes into the second half and the Entente broke clear through the centres once more and it looked like the super-fast inside centre would score as she ran into an open field. Like a flash, Edith somehow appeared from nowhere to put in a crunching tackle 15 metres out and save a certain try. This visibly lifted the spirits of everyone and Luzern set about the Entente team once more, asserting big pressure up front and attacking at every opportunity. The Redzones tackling had been superb all day and despite several breaks, it took until the 72nd minute for Luzern’s fourth and decisive try, Carole receiving the ball close to the right touchline, sprinting past the fullback and scoring in the corner to make it 14-22.
The Entente would not give up without a final effort and willed on by the home supporters, their forwards drove to the Dangels line and finally managed to dive over to come within 3 points and just 2 minutes left.
This Dangels team is a confident bunch and there was never any doubt that they would see out the remaining time. A good kick-off from Carole was pressured. After two lineouts were exchanged, a counter-ruck on the Bern 10 metre line saw Sarah Stuart gleefully kick the ball out to signal the end of the match.
As an advert for Swiss women’s rugby this was as good as it gets. Both teams deserve immense credit for their efforts. At times the match got too physical and both teams can be commended for not letting things descend into chaos. There is immense respect and friendship between both sides and it was good to see this still intact after the final whistle. For Luzern, one more point from the two remaining home matches will secure the title. The hard work is done. But the work is not finished.
Angel wings: Edith. A hat-trick of tries and a tackle that was worth a try. Her performances get even better with every match. Still plenty to learn as well… (holding the ball!) but this will come.
Horns: Luke. It was difficult to decide who should get them and the Captain decided to be very sneaky and give them to the coach. (This has been noted)
Beers for: Dionne. First match with the Dangels, gave everything and unfortunate to step into a big hole and hurt her ankle. We hope it gets better quickly!
Cynthia. Given best player by the Redzones, her first game back for a while and really strengthened the forwards with her play and her leadership
written by our coach