Crusaders 14-10 Fakenham
By Amanda White
More Cards Than Clintons; But Very Few Gifts.
Saturday 29th September saw Crusaders 1st team taken on Fakenham in a Cup & League double header; these events are usually tense affairs with so much on the table and Saturday didn’t disappoint.
Five minutes into a tense opening with neither side making much ground, Fakenham saw red, a straight red card for a tip tackle which saw big Tim Zielinski unceremoniously dumped on his head, but despite the numerical advantage it was Fakenham that took a nervy lead into halftime 0-3, they actually looked galvanised by the loss of a player, whilst Crusaders struggled to probe the gaps left.
The first half was littered with sloppy and needless penalties, from both sides, although, this is something Crusaders will need to work on if they want to make the best of this season, we give possession up too easily with chaotic ruck and maul defence and waste opportunities; too often believing a score is going to come every time we touch the ball.
The second half was no less a tense affair despite more cards, this time Yellows one a-piece, Rob Dye penalised for offside on the try-line, something we repeatedly work on in training and will annoy the coaches; with both sides scoring early tries, but most of the game was camped midfield with Crusaders dominant in the scrum but overpowered in midfield contact.
The score 7-10 with only 8 minutes left on the clock, time was wasted needlessly by Crusaders, as Leo Tolstoy said “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time” and Crusaders were running out of both; with 6 penalties within 5 meters of the Fakenham line; all wasted as scoring opportunities, and finally pressure was released from the Fakenham defensive line as Mat Atkins saw yellow for taking the law into his own hands.
In fairness Fakenham were slowing good attacking ball down, as they had done expertly all afternoon, but a needless penalty and a pointless card; if the referee can see you Mat, he can also see what they are doing too!
Still with only minutes on the clock, Ryan ‘Titch’ Harris, having a star performance at 9 took the game by the scruff of the neck and ran through and past 6 Fakenham defenders to score under the posts.
What happened next is all a bit of a mess, and certainly one Fakenham will look back on as a “not to be repeated” moment, someone jumped on Ryan’s back after he’d scored; some handbags quickly escalated into a head-butt from Fakenham’s number 12, who saw red, Referee David Speck imperious in sticking to not only the laws of the game but enforcing the spirit in which the game is supposed to be played, called time as the resulting conversion was slotted home.
Crusaders get their first win in the league and a cup victory, although the mistakes made will need working on; as too many chances went begging and far too many penalties were given away needlessly.
However; a victory is still a victory, and no less than Crusaders deserved.