April was never going to be a month for accumulating points – playing the top 3 in the league, all away. Thankfully, the RCL pack learned from an often soft display against Neuchatel last week, taking on the huge Lugano pack well in the loose from the kick-off in a manner that belied the differences in size and experience. RCL backs moved the ball quickly, and attacked their opponents with speed. There was plenty of positional kicking in the game, and our backs managed this will cool heads. Overall, this gave our back 3 plenty of opportunities to show great running.
RCL took the lead early with several breaks from our own half. While spending much time in our own half, our defense was firm and we made our tackles. Across the pitch, we managed Lugano’s comeback well. Despite only having one established jumper, we fought well in the lineouts, and continued in our trend of taking several against the head. Sadly, our pack was unable to manage their formidable scrum. This Lugano team contained several Argentinians, and enjoyed a weight and size advantage that was ominous from the outset. Still, scrums aside, RCL fought bravely and had the edge for much of the match. It was great to see a top-of-the-table team being taken by surprise by the aggression of newly promoted RCL.
Through the whole game, backs and forwards rucked well, showing great development in this facet of the game. Nonetheless, Lugano showed their experience in the open, forcing too many penalties from RCL in rucks. It was these errors that cost us dearly.
While we went to the half-time break even, mid-way through the second half RCL were forced to endure the might of the Lugano pack, with scrum after scrum within our 22. Two of the 3 Lugano tries came directly from their powerful scrum, at a point where RCL were becoming drained. With great progress made with our scrum, we were reminded that we are only at the beginning of this learning curve. Still, with the massive size and experience gap Saturday, we did as well as we could and never stopped fighting.
Overall, like last week in Neuchatel, RCL were hugely disappointed after losing by a very respectable margin away to a top-of-the-table opposition. While proud, we were annoyed at having been caught out in terms of experience and tactics. Still, what RCL were certainly not lacking was pure skill, pride and fighting spirit. Unlike others in the lower half of the table, this is a team that does not collapse when up against it.
Rugby Lugano 31 – 16 RCL