Luzern kept one firm hand on their league championship Saturday by beating a strong Bern/Yverdon ‘Entente’ side at the Allmend. Backed up by our friends from Basel – who all made critical contributions to a squad missing several notable players – the game will be remembered for a truly exciting and high quality first half, a struggle for dominance in the second half, and the explosive debut of a humble, dedicated athlete who has all the tools to be an absolutely outstanding player.
It was the Dangels’ first game at the new pitch just in front of Pallino’s and a misty morning broke into fine afternoon sunshine under the stunning views of Mount Pilatus – a truly perfect day to play rugby and a mouth-watering clash of the top two teams in the league.
The opening exchanges took place in the centre of the pitch as both teams looked to assert early dominance. Despite an untried pack, the forwards rucked well early on and it was only 8 minutes until Luzern scored the opening try. Judith picked up a loose ball and ran powerfully up the centre of the field. Lolli supported well and took the ball quickly up the right touchline, outsprinting the defenders to score under the posts and give the home side a 7-0 lead.
The Redzones are improving every season and the early try did nothing to dampen their confidence. Turning to their experienced forwards, they slowly but powerfully drove the ball up-field, making use of the blindside to overload the recovering Dangels’ defenders . Luzern tacklers were too passive in position and tackling technique, allowing the Entente forwards to make big yards up the field. After continuous pressure close to the Luzern tryline, finally the defensive line broke and the Redzones crashed over to make it 7-5.
The response was immediate, simple and devastating from Luzern. A scrum on the opposition 22m line was passed quickly through the backs hands and ended with Edith racing through into the left corner for her first try. The first of many as it would turn out. With 15 minutes gone the score was 12-5 and the crowd were really enjoying a fine game.
3 minutes later and the supporters were even more amazed. Another powerful run from Lolli, dodging and breaking 7 or 8 tackles, was continued by a good support run from Henni, having an outstanding game out of position at flanker. A penalty for offside in the opposition half was taken quickly by Hannah, who drew another penalty for offside. The penalty was passed wide through the hands to Edith once more, who broke three tackles to score her second try and make it 17-5.
The first half was only 20 minutes old and more points were added to the new home scoreboard. Brilliant counter-rucking by Judith, who stole the ball numerous times throughout the match, got the ball wide to Lolli on the Luzern 10m line, who burst through up the right touchline. Great support from Esti allowed Lolli to draw the tackler and pass the ball. Luzern’s inside centre made 20m more before giving Lolli the ball back and scoring in the corner for a convincing 22-5 lead.
There was still time for Edith to receive possession twice and sprint past two tacklers positioned outside her, a display of quite unbelievable speed that had the crowd literally stunned. Good tackling from the opposition fullback halted the runs, but it gave a glimpse of the incredible potential for the Dangels’ newest recruit.
Of course, a Luzern player who has more than fulfilled her potential is the fullback. Lolli is a player who has always been able to score individual tries of the highest quality, so much so that it has become expected. This shouldn’t take away from her consistency in doing this time and again. A first half hat-trick was completed after yet another solo special, this time taking possession through the middle, evading 5 tackles and running up her favourite right touchline before going under the posts for another sensational score. 29-5 was the score just 2 minutes before half-time.
An immediate lapse in concentration allowed the Redzones to break through the middle and after yet another goalline siege, the Entente pushed over to get a morale-boosting try just as the referee blew the whistle for half-time.
If the first half was glorious to watch, the second half was notable only for the sheer battle of wills from either side. A war of attrition took place in the middle of the field and after a high tackle from the Redzones outside centre was punished with a yellow card, it was clear that the free-flowing rugby of the first half was being thrown out of the window by both sides. The Entente began to win regular scrums and lineouts as the inexperienced Luzern pack started to weaken. However in open play, there are few teams that can overcome the Dangels’ formidable defence. There are also the individual game-changers to make the difference. One of these was confirmed on 67 minutes when the ball was passed wide to Edith on the Luzern 22m line. The crowd immediately knew that something special was about to happen as Edith sprinted away like Usain Bolt. A last ditch tap tackle from the Redzones slowed her down just over the halfway line and it seemed like the recovering defenders would catch her. Showing great balance to keep her feet, Edith immediately got back up to full speed and raced away to score in the left corner to complete a brilliant hat-trick.
The final score: 34-12. Afterwards players from both sides went off to Angie’s 30th birthday celebrations and had a great time together. Despite the rivalry on the pitch, there is a great friendship off it and this showed through again. Credit to the Redzones for yet another tough game and it is clear they are improving with every game we play. Luzern will have to continue to work hard, train hard and improve in all areas of the game if they are to retain their title. However it is clear a big step towards retaining the championship has been made after just two games.
Angel of the match: Henni – Playing in an unfamiliar position, she was the one player who constantly ran onto the ball and hit the ball carrier behind the gain line
Devil of the match: Lolli – For kicking the ball into Judith’s head when trying to get out of our own 22m area!
Drinks for: Dom and Edith – playing in their first games and hopefully the first of many
Opposition player: Padler – always a tough opponent and led the opposition pack well all match
Team: 1. Eva, 2. Angi, 3. Lala, 4. Viola, 5. Hildi, 6. Henni, 7. Judith, 8. Julia, 9. Hannah, 10. Sarah (c), 11. Carien, 12. Esti, 13. Schlumpf, 14. Edith, 15. Lolli,
Subs: 16. Bea, 17. Dom