It was never going to be pretty, and the conditions really did not suit our backs. Playing on Lugano’s second pitch, the size of a large apartment, the teams faced awful conditions, with large parts of the pitch under water.
Sadly, RCL started too slowly, and Lugano got a very early try off a sloppy lineout. They scored soon again, and were 10 points up within the first 15 mins. There is little to say about the backs in the first half, given the lack of possession. The pack fought hard, and coped with the powerful Lugano mauling well. After the first 3 scrums, RCL managed to fight back, and the scrummaging showed huge improvements compared to the two fixtures last season.
The difference in the performance in the second half showed what might have been. Our backs – despite the mud and pools of water – attacked well, and reacted with great speed to the many loose balls through the game. Indeed, for the middle third of the game, most of it was played between the 10 metre lines.
Two tries (both in the second half) came from a powerful pack filled with Italians and Argentinians using the tactics befitting of these countries. Tight, well-controlled mauls and pick-and-gos brought results for Lugano. Nonetheless, RCL fought back, and didn’t collapse, as would be common later on in such a game against such a strong team.
Overall, when the ball was in the open, RCL backs were highly dangerous. There was a great level of involvement from our back 3, where RCL have great strength. A try count of 4:0 did not reflect much of the game, but Lugano must be praised for their execution of possession near our line; this is indeed a weakness of RCL’s.
Given the conditions, the knock-on count was very low. Tackling was strong, and the Lugano backs rarely broke through. Indeed, most traffic was in the opposite direction. Tackling in fatboy and crashball situations is still far from what is needed – especially against teams who love to maul: only with low, fast tackles, getting the man down, will RCL cope with this sort of pack. Lineouts still require much work, but are improving. Only with better attendance at training can this happen. Scrummaging continues to improve. We look forward to dryer conditions for our backs for the return leg against Lugano in June – a game that will certainly have a closer scoreline.
Result: Lugano 26 – 0 RCL
Man of the Match: Texi
Twat of the Match: Brendon (being too scared to arrive until 10 mins from end)
Finally, a special, heart-felt comment has to go to the ref: his joie de vivre was infectious, showing us younger men that, if you’re loving your job, you should never hang up the boots!