What was clear about this game from an hour before kick-off was that the opponents were not the same side that RCL faced at home back in the autumn. This was a hugely improved side on the whole and La Chaux-de-fonds looked like a much more admirable opponent in their warm-up session. It was not going to be an easy win for RCL if at all. As it turned out, LchF played to their strengths, exploited RCL’s weaknesses and capitalised on mistakes – particularly handling errors – as these meant that LchF could deploy their forwards’ weight and dominance in the scrum to great effect. That having been said, when RCL got the ball moving about the pitch and kept their opponents on their toes the whole time, RCL always looked like scoring in one or two phases’ time. However, the patience and vision is sometimes lacking enabling key players to make the decisions necessary to see out three or four phases of play before trying to get over the try-line. So often, chances go begging when RCL get quick ball; wide open spaces on the pitch occupied by lumbering heavy-weights waiting to be skinned by more agile players are let off the hook and the opposition is given ample time to re-align itself. No sooner have RCL created an opportunity to exploit an overlap than slow ball, or messy presentation at the back of a ruck countervails the hard gains won and hands the game back over to the opposition.
La Chaux-de-fonds have a heavy pack of forwards and they scrummage very very well. This must be conceded. But still, they do not have the same skills sets as RCL forwards, they do not run with the ball like RCL forwards, neither did they have the same speed. But they did have determination and intensity. No matter how quick Martin could get down to try and jackle ball, LaChF forwards took up the challenge and counter-rucked harder. And yet, it did not seem like a game that LaChF were going to win. RCL had the better of the game much of the time when the ball was loose. Unfortunately, despite some great runs down the attack channel close to line by both wings, Dani and Sven, RCL couldn’t do much with the territorial gains made. Either passes went to ground or LaChF were able to wrestle RCL wingers into touch.
Once more there were clear turning points in the game which contributed to the team’s loss – people making the wrong decisions in situations where seven points were guaranteed. However, this is a team in transition still and there are still games to be won yet this spring. Next weekend will be a very very tough match. It would be a great one to win.