In the end, the scoreline looked more comfortable than the game really was. RCL1 are not 4-tries-to-nil better than Winterthur; but what they did was rise to the occasion on the day and finish off a clean (try) sheet in defense with a bonus point try.
This was always a risky game. Winterthur have improved immensely in the last year, and RCL often have difficulty being favourites. Still, right from the outset, RCL1 attacked with exciting rugby, and defended doggedly. Two tries in the first half, two in the second: this is the consistency we needed. Both first half tries were beautifully finished backs moves after several tidy phases by the pack. One new player commented that the first try was easy. Not true. Only with the right positioning, decoy running, creating space, looking for space, hitting the right angles and changing pace can such tries look easy. We’ve had plenty of off-days, constantly knocking on. Three of the four tries were a testament to cool, calm heads in the backs, after mistake-free forwards play.
Line outs were really impressive, and the scrum – well, RCL are simply no longer a “weak” scrummaging side. Still, Winterthur did a job on us with their lineouts and the mauls off many of them. RCL did not react to Winterthur throwing between out #2 and #4. And we had no answer to their impressive mauling. There are 2 issues to cover in training this week…
It’s also a great show of character that an RCL1 team that definitely had the minority of the ball could not only hold out, but not concede a try. It was a lesson in tackle, tackle, tackle…and patiently wait for them to run out of steam and make a mistake. Our penalty count was low. The tackling off the sides of the rucks was brilliant – all the while staying on-side. Very little made it through our midfield, with very aggressive tackling right across our backline.
As noted by Dan, the speed of on-boarding (jargon – sorry…) by the newer players is really impressive. RCL1 are now able to field several beginners, and more coming on as subs, with little disruption. Still, much to learn. As has already been communicated to one player, new players are now expected to bring up issues to coaches/senior players they don’t understand, that confuse them, where they’re getting contradictory instructions, etc. If you don’t ask, you’ll miss out – and the coaches are very aware of who is active in their learning and who is not…
Finally, when players feel the need to dish out their own punishments on the pitch, could they try to do it when the referee’s not looking? That’d be awesome.
Result: RCL1 26 – 3 Winterthur
Man of the Match: Dave (nominees: Tonazzi, Raa*)
Twat of the Match: Thomas (for taking so long to score his first try)
*And a special note must go out to Raa for his quick thinking to catch their line kick (like Stew vs Fribourg) and the cool head to boot it half way down the pitch – right when Winterthur were closing in. RCL have a terrible habit of sleeping on the job, so that was great to see…