It is with a little trepidation that I take over the match report reins from our usual journalistic maestro. However, I hope to do Jim justice.
First up, I think it is fair to say that with the arrival of new exchange students, there was a sense of anticipation to see how the new recruits would fair, and none of them disappointed. Discipline was the order of the day from our skipper, Paolo. One new player remarked after the game about how he got a little bit ‘scared’ by the speech given by Paolo (about how we should be disciplined as a side and not give away silly penalties or get involved in the darker parts of the breakdowns). With all this said, I think it’s safe to say that we were all a little surprised when Paolo was not only the first warned by the referee, but also given a yellow card 15 minutes into the game for repeated infringes. This all but signalled the end of his day as a suspicious ‘3 stud shaped’ looking cut to the head led to him spending the afternoon in the emergency room. The less said about his departure from the field the better.
Following his departure, and with the absence of the three most senior members of the squad inc coaches and captain, someone needed to step up. Queue Dolph. Viktor replaced Paolo as captain and what a performance he put in. Running some superb lines off both Antonio at 10 and his new centre partner Kyle Cahill, Viktor ran in 4 tries. I think anyone watching or playing this game would agree he really stepped up to the mark on Saturday and finally showed us what he can do after only showing glimpses this past year. The weird diets and protein paying off hey mate? Who needs a girlfriend..
However much we can single out this individual performance, the whole team really turned it on. Despite a shaky start that saw some miscommunication from the kickoff, and the resulting first phase defensive pattern let HRC go 40m up the pitch and only some great scramble defence from the outside backs prevented a repeat of last week’s game up in Karlstad. From the resulting play a penalty was conceded to give Gripen an easy chance for 3 points. The normally reliable kicker from Helsingborg missed and let us off the hook. This appeared to act as a wakeup call for Lugi, and we went on to play some scintillating rugby and score some good tries.
In a complete turnaround from last week, the forwards were dominant in both the set pieces and in the loose. This enabled us to generate some decent quick ball and play the way we have been talking about all year by getting the ball wide and as early as possible. The lack of an experienced scrum-half meant the forwards might have been asked to rumble it up a few phases more than normal, but they did this in an accomplished manner, always getting over the advantage line and generating the quick ball needed. ‘Preacher man’ Imberg once again demonstrated how dangerous he can be in the loose with a barraging run from 5m out resulting in a 7 pointer.
My memory of the other tries scored is hazy – but what i can say is this. All our scores came from sucking in the Helsingborg defenders with some tight forward play, getting quick ball and moving the ball quickly out to the backs who carved through the Gripen defence like a hot knife through butter. That is when the ball managed to get past ‘white line fever’ Cordes. Nobody can argue with 4 tries though…When the ball did go wide, it resulted in tries for David Lönsjö and a nearly try for Lars ‘5m line’ Olofsson.
Despite all the positives in attack, we still seem to have our frailties in defence. Time and time again we fail to communicate with each other which results in mismatches in the lines and gives our opponents chances both out wide and in attack. I know that this was the 1st game with the new players, but in my opinion when you are on the pitch rugby is the same wherever you are from. Therefore the fact that we are new to each other shouldn’t matter; communication levels should still be higher. Several of us are also guilty of ‘ruck watching’ and not aligning ourselves properly in defence – a quick glance at the ruck to see where the ball is then make sure you are fixed on your man. This also relies heavily again upon the communication coming from your inside, to ensure whatever message is being passed down the line. I also feel we need to be more aggressive in defence. This means trying to make what I would call an ‘attacking tackle’, attempting to take ground from the opponent rather than just getting him to the ground. Gripen scored their two tries this way, close to the line and simply driving through us close to the breakdown. Our body height needs to be much better in these situations.
However, all in all a very good performance and a thoroughly convincing win. Despite the backs outscoring the forwards 5-1, 4 try hero Cordes was quick to point out in the post match press conference that the try ratio statistic doesn’t tell the full story. He had this to say on Sunday:
Woke up today with a big f****** smile on my bruised face! Great game and an amazing victory for us my brothers! Sure scoring tries looks good on the scoreboard and it seems like it’s the only thing shining through unfortunately. The hard work that our forward pack put in yesterday was amazing! The brute force from your powerful scrums and massive tackles left Helsingborg on their f****** arses!!
Us backs would never score tries or get to shine if it wasn’t for you doing all the dirty work!
Every time I got the ball and went in, I could hear a forward screaming behind me that he had my back! Every time someone tried to rip the ball off me a forward was there making sure he would regret it! And every time I was laying at the bottom of a ruck, I had a Lugi forward standing over me, saving my arse once more!
So next time you as a back score a try. Give your thanks to the forwards, because they sure as hell had something to do with it!! You made my day and you made me f****** proud my brothers! Will be walking tall all week! See you all on Monday!
NB. Exclamation marks left in to convey his sheer excitement. Asterix’s were not present. Left in original Swenglish.
Final Score – Lugi Lions 41 – 12 HRC.
Best On: Im not sure this was discussed due to NONE of the coaching staff being present. Weddings, and a little cut being the excuses. Therefore, I am taking the executive decision to award it to the white Adidas Boots. Only joking, the man who was wearing them – Viktor Cordes. But as he said in a very long winded way – ‘The forwards win the game, the backs decide by how many’.
I meant to keep this short, but its turned out to be longer than a lot of my school work from this year. Go figure… Lugi Kärlek.