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Both of Crusaders’ U17-boy’s-teams were in action on Wednesday evening (July-24), in their final games of the “regular” league season.
The Swords traveled to Fletcher’s-Fields, to take on Metro-Rugby-Alliance, and the Arrows traveled to Mississauga, to take-on the Blues. But with several players away with vacations and some recovering from injuries, both squads were very tight on numbers – each boasting only one sub. So almost all players were on-field for the full 70-minute game-time, in the warm (but thankfully, not-too-humid), conditions.
The SWORDS took control from the start in their game – Hard running by the forwards sucked-in the MRA defenders, and clinical quick-ball was swiftly distributed to the outside channels, where the backs found and exploited the available space. Everyone on the team enjoyed spells of “running-rugby” with ball in hand – lots of opportunities to run, create-space and deftly off-load to the ever-present support-players – Some great hit-up play from Michael Hayes and Victor Tarnovski, and with freedom to work in smaller pods, front-rowers Nick Iannicca and Adam Boyd had some great breaks in outside channels, while Lomax Lloyd worked tremendously hard in the breakdowns to secure ball. Mehdi Poirier enjoyed his time at #8 with some great penetrating efforts – but “men”-of-the match was a “double-up” for the pairing of Connor Gittens and Daniel Sanders – who showed just how sublimely-coordinated the 9-10 paring can work. Daniel was also exquisite with the boot. Finding space behind the on-rushing defenders when in open play, but also converting eight out of nine kicks from the tee, many from the side-lines. Final score, a convincing 61:5 to the Swords.
The ARROWS game against Mississauga-Blues proved to be an altogether much tighter affair. The Blues team, no-doubt buoyed by their recent win over the Swords last-week, were “up-for-it” against the Arrows. Some great open-play and hard-tackling from Rory Ireland, Ibrahim El-Amir and Mike McArtney, kept the Arrows team in contention at the breakdowns. Sustained hard-work from the whole front row – Connor-Davidson, Max-Boulanger and Mathurian-Kanithinathan, for the full-game, helped to maintain momentum going forward. Some brilliant last-gasp tackles from Jack-Jenkins at full-back thwarted the would-be break-aways from the Blues. But the stand-out performance was the determined-running from fly-half, by man-of-the-match, Liam Bowman – ably dotting down twice, making a conversion, and kicking a penalty-goal, for Cru go ahead in the last 5-minutes. A hard-fought match, with a little bit of argy-bargy in places, certainly a nail-biter, but dogged-determination won-out in the end. Final score 20:17 to Crusaders.
So with those two wins, it means that the Swords and Arrows finish as “First” and “Second” in the league division, both with a record of 4-and-1 – “Chapeau” guys!