For the first time in a while, things went RCL’s way in the toss of the coin and they were able to defend a kick-off and play up-hill for the first half of the game. Things went well from the beginning and the team played according to plan. For the first thirty-five minutes of the game, RCL played quick ball off the back of rucks on the whole and went through phases of play earning themselves their two first half tries. On the other hand, the opposition seemed quite content to concede the rucks to RCL giving the team time to reorganise themselves in attack and take the game to the opposition. It was well-earned rucks and patience that earned the team the first try in the left corner coming off four or five phases of play opening up the attack channel to create a two on one, which was exploited to the full.
There were also some excellent displays of hard tackling from seasoned second row forwards, dazzling runs with the ball in hand from the back row and the back line too. It was a great measure of their success as a team that RCL’s style of play determined the shape of play for thirty-five minutes of the first half. However, with roughly ten minutes to go, Alba picked up the pace of their game, increased the intensity of their rucking and began to make their presence felt in second, third, fourth phase ball.
The second half saw Alba continue where they left off: they went into the rucks with much more aggression than in the first half. Indeed, they began to commit more players and this brought about its rewards and suddenly there was a battle for the ball in loose play. What’s more, their back line tackled consistently and out of nowhere they were successfully jackling ball from RCL backs in rucks. This brought about a number of penalties costing RCL a bit of territory here and there.
If Alba’s kicking had been more effective, then RCL would have spent much more time in their own half of the field in both halves of the game. Gladly for RCL, this is a team with strong catching and handling skills across the whole team and high balls, kicks into RCL territory prove to be their far less worrying attempts at attacking. On the contrary, these provided opportunities for the back three to get into the match just as they did at the weekend where Marcel at full-back found himself making significant ground once with the ball in hand. His experience on the field served to lead the rookies in the back three while giving them the confidence to make their dazzling runs with the ball in hand; Manuel tearing down the touchline and Pascal making bone-crushing tackles on his try-line you can hear fifty meters away.
The tidiness of the scrummaging aside, the forwards had a great game. As we keep seeing, they are so very dangerous with the ball in hand. There is not one forward in the RCL side who cannot make meters when he runs at the opposition. The same can be said for the backs, too, and this weekend was no different in his respect. However, there was one exhibition of skill and timing in particular that must be mentioned and this was a deft kick by Dom over the Alba backs which Dave then collected and capitalised on. It was this that led to the third try of RCL’s match.
If it hadn’t been for the penalty try, RCL would have come away with a clean sheet in all likelihood. But alas! – it was not to be. A great game overall against a team who were out to win in a desperate attempt to avoid relegation, and who had a game plan. Although a little scrappy towards the end, RCL never looked like losing. This was a side brimming with confidence to begin, but who lost their way a little toward the end. But still, a great win once again and a really fantastic team effort overall.
Well done RCL!
Final score: RCL1 27 – 7 Alba Lausanne
Man of the Match: Leo
Twat of the Match: Sami (forgetting, as usual, Twat of the Match costume)