If there is one thing I am certain Le Chaux de Fonds came to Luzern not to do, that was to lose. Le Chaux de Fonds turned up with a very heavy pack and a much bigger back-line than we faced away to them at home. This was a much changed side. Clearly they had won the toss as they elected to play downfield in the second half. To their credit, they made the most of this advantage and played a lot of the game in Luzern’s half in the latter 40 minutes of the game. However, they were to be denied.
The first ten minutes of the game saw RCL go through some consolidated phases of rugby rucking the ball consistently and with excellence to provide us with a well-earned penalty kick. This game us the opportunity to attack from a line-out resulted in a try for RCL in the corner. That was essentially the first 15 minutes of the game over. Try and successful conversion.
For the next five minutes of play, progress was dogged by handling errors. That familiar anxiety crept into RCL’s play and there were a number of knock-ons. On the other hand, the work between 10, 12 and 13 was hampered only by a little indecision; lots of ground was made, but loose ball clearly creates confusion at times and with that came the indecision. This was not to be the case for long in this game though and there were sterling efforts among new players to fall on the ball and secure ball for RCL in messy phases.
After 22 minutes, LaCdF found themselves in RCL territory creating a maul off a line-out from a penalty kick. RCL ground the opposition down in defence until finally RCL created turn-over ball and Luke was able to clear. This was a gutsy, determined and defiant stint of defending close to the line. Not much later, RCL were back down in their half and it looked as if the backs were going to go over the line again. Once more the last pass going to ground was costly.
The next five minutes saw RCL put LaCdF under pressure again playing the game in their half and this resulted in a penalty. Although it was missed, it led to a try and conversion: it goes to show that penalty kicks can win points in more ways than one. However, despite the incredible defending by RCL there was a try to LaCdF in the 38th minute. Having said that, if the ball had been held in the pass, RCL would have been ahead by 14 points by now – if not more!
The second half started with RCL being very quick out of the blocks so to speak, and RCL really got off to a good start winning a scrum, and a good kick to touch. A little later, opting for a line-out proved to be a wise decision and the RCL backs made massive territorial gains with ball in hand only to be disappointed by handling. This had already been a feature of play, but was to improve if only by degrees as the game went on.
By this time, however, LaCdF had acquired a sixteenth player in the form of the referee. Once more a considerable bias was making itself felt in the game and RCL were unfairly penalised for being quick off their defensive line. In such a tight game, those handling errors could have been much much more costly, especially when an opposing side spends 30 minutes in our territory. Yet again, after 35 minutes RCL displayed some excellent counter-attacking play and repelled LaCdF from their half and looked as if they would score again. In that see-saw fashion though, no sooner had RCL been pressing against the opposition try line than were they to be found defending on their own 10 meter line again. In fact, it was the extraordinary efforts of forwards and backs alike to make those tackles count that won RCL the match finally. It was not for nothing that the second row for instance had to pick up those bodies of theirs and once more propel themselves into the fray.
It was a very sound performance from RCL. There were times when RCL dazzled. There were times when they looked frazzled. Best of all were times when they battled.