17 players travelled to Milandia pitch in Zurich for the most eagerly anticipated game of the season: victory would mean almost certainly taking the Swiss Champions title back from our closest rivals. Not only is it the hardest fought game of every season, but also a rare opportunity to play 15’s rugby. The weather was perfect. There were a lot of spectators – life doesn’t get much better.
The game started as expected with both teams working the balls close to the breakdown through their forward packs. Our contact skills let us down from time-to-time and Zurich did a more effective job of sucking our defensive line into the tight and then spinning the ball wide. This allowed them to score a simply try down their right wing, making use of an overlap and a second try cutting back inside from the centres as our back line spread out to cover the gaps out wide.
The game was very physical and neither side really got into a rhythm as both teams gave away lots of penalties. Every area of the game was hard fought: scrums, line-outs, rucks & mauls and a lot of the first half was played in the middle of the pitch. It seemed that every time one team would gain 20 metres, a penalty or turnover would concede possession to the opposition. With just a few minutes left in the first half, Sarah Stuart sold a perfect dummy to her opposite #10, stepped back inside & sprinted away between the posts to score.
We started the 2nd-half better than the first, but we simply could not get out of our own half. If SKY Sports were running statistics on the game it would say ‘Visits to Opponents 22: 2. Tries: 2.’ The 2 tries came courtesy of a #8 pick-up from the base of the scrum which Sarah Mac passed out to Lea on the wing who drew the final defender and managed to slip the ball back inside to Sarah with a clear run to the line and from a searing break from Carole from inside our own half.
For the last 20 minutes we barely left our own 22. We gave away far too many penalties and from a 5m penalty the Zurich forwards powered over the line to score.
The relief (for almost everyone) when the referee blew the final whistle was immense. For Sarah Mac somewhat less so (I thought they had scored 3 tries in the first half & therefore that we’d lost the game – oops!)
So many things to be proud of: to win away from home, to come from behind to win, to defend so well for so long. In the end, nothing matches the feeling of winning such a close game having lost 3 games by 3 points or less to these guys in recent history.
Many thanks to Zurich for making this such a memorable game.
Tries: Carole, SarahTwins
Conversions: Carole (2 – thank ****!)
Angel of the Game: Carole – thanks to all of the practice she puts in to drop-kicking, we had those precious extra 2 points
Devil of the Game: Carole – when you have one player to beat & two supporting players, tradition would dictate that you draw the defender & set one of your team-mates clear to score. The alternative (hand-off the defender & head for the corner) is acceptable (if you make it) & definitely more stressful for everyone.