Luzern began the 2014/15 season in style Sunday by overcoming a strong Zürich team on their own pitch in warm September sunshine. Although the hosts were missing some key players, they provided a tough examination which will help the Dangels focus on areas of improvement whilst knowing that key strengths still remain.
The start of the game saw both sides exchange big tackles and compete hard at the breakdown. Neither team could make any clear openings and whilst Luzern perhaps had slightly more possession in the first 15 minutes, it was a very even match.
The 19th minute saw a breakthrough though, with Luzern finally making ground after shifting the ball wide to Henni on the left wing. She was tackled 5 metres from the line and when Zürich illegally put their hands in at the ruck, a quick tap penalty and dive over from Sarah Stuart saw points finally taken.
5 minutes later the scoreline was doubled. Another big run from Carole wide on the right, supported well by Sarah Mac and Tammie, gave Luzern possession about 10 metres out. The ball was passed wide through the backs and Henni went over for her first try of the day.
The momentum had shifted to Luzern and more points soon followed, this time a huge solo run up the right wing from Carole after Judith stole the ball at a maul – the first of several turnovers she forced in an aggressive performance at openside flanker. The conversion made it 17-0.
However Zürich are a tough team on their own pitch and were not going to go down without a fight. Luzern possession on their own 22 metre line was passed back dangerously. Good anticipation from the Zürich wing saw the ball intercepted and despite some heroic defending holding the big Valkyries forwards up at the line, eventually the hosts forced the ball over for a confidence-boosting score.
The Luzern of 2 seasons ago may have started to panic at this point. However experience and belief in each other means that the 2014 Dangels are a mentally strong side which can overcome setbacks like these. The gameplan of getting the ball wide quickly finally worked, although not in the way the coaches had planned. Despite the ball being received by Henni and 2 defenders clearly covering her, she broke through the tackles anyway with power and speed to score her 2nd try of the game.
Still Zürich would not lie down. Poor defensive organisation left Henni on her own to try and tackle 4 girls. They passed the ball round her to make double-digits on the scoreboard.
Half-time saw some calm and measured talking in order to correct our errors. Nobody was angry or worried. It was a professional team talk, everyone united in their desire to lift the team’s game and get our season off to a great start. People were enjoying playing competitive rugby again and it showed in the smiles that everyone had. This attitude will help Luzern when there are even tougher games ahead.
The second half saw a much more aggressive performance from everyone. Tackling was hard and closer to the opposition gain line. Rucking was more secure. The support play was excellent. A break from Sarah Stuart, carried on by Sarah Mac, allowed Henni possession of the ball 25 metres out and with 3 girls in front of her. No matter, a powerful break and hand off saw 2 tackles broken and a superb try just 3 minutes into the second half.
Luzern began to take control and Zürich couldn’t get near the Dangels’ 22 metre line, let alone the tryline. The win was all but confirmed with the best handling move of the match, the ball being passed through 6 pairs of hands to Carole who raced through to score from just past halfway. The conversion made it 34-12.
With 15 minutes to go both teams were very tired after a gruelling game. A lot of big tackles had gone in from both sides and substitutes were all put into the game to inject new energy.
There was still time for Judith to block a clearing kick and give Luzern a chance to score from 20 metres away. The ball was cleverly passed wide left and once again Carole was on the end of the final ball, scoring in the corner. Final score: 39-12.
A great way to start the season for the Dangels. A win in Zürich is always good no matter if by 20 points or by 2 points. We have identified weaknesses but also know that we can rely on our basic skills and organisation if we find ourselves in a real tough battle. Training will help us to improve on the areas of our game we struggled with and be ready to play a team in 3 weeks that has improved every season – Bern. This will be a huge game taking place in Luzern and one that will go a long way to deciding who wins the championship this year.
Angel of the Match: Judith – forced a number of turnovers and tried her ass off all game.
Special mention: Carole and Henni – both scored 3 tries each and showed big power, speed and strength for all of their tries.
Devil of the Match: Tammie – just turns up for one week, trains twice and jumps into a crucial position like scrum-half as if she has never been away. It’s a disgrace how talented the girl is!
Written by Luke