By Justin Rutledge | 03.23.16
After kicking off the Spring season suppressing some Southern aggressors, the Crusaders went back to school and took the field against the Bowling Green State University Men’s Rugby team. Both sides saw action against the first and second sides from the collegiate powerhouse; and the Crusaders came out on top both times. The first XV won 64-10, while the second side’s final score was 34-15.
“After a very rewarding weekend in Savannah, the keys this week were to heal the bumps, rest up and get focused on a Bowling Green State University,” said Head Coach of the Cleveland Crusaders, Donnie Harbert.
Aside from some strong momentum, the Crusaders brought a strong contingent of BGSU alumni along for the ride. Among the familiar faces were Nick Viviani, Scott Wallace, Derek Imes, Terry Kilbane and Nick Musarra, who all made impacts on the results that came from the weekend excursion.
The trip to the western wing of Ohio had two purposes. One goal was one both teams could understand. According to Harbert, the more pragmatic idea behind the weekend’s match was to knock off some more of the rust before the big matches started for both clubs. The second purpose was a more selfish one for the Crusaders.
“Our focus was to show our worth in hopes of recruiting many of these young men when their college days end,” he said. “After speaking with their coaches and players afterward, I believe we have certainly accomplished that.”
The overall performance by the Crusaders could be called clinical but imperfect. From top to bottom, the Crusaders had the matches in hand. With the pack peppered throughout the back line, runners punched through the defending Falcons line with every run. The college players made their tackles, but all too often the damage had been done; and the follow-up punches tended to yield points. The offense for the Crusaders was effective by imperfect. There were a number of handling errors that halted the Crusaders’ offensive progress, some in the most inopportune times. “Soft Serve” Joe Brown was mere feet away from adding another five points to his team’s tally when the ball popped loose. The list of scoreboard contributors is hazy, at best, but what is clear is that the offense was extremely effective.
“While we made a few uncharacteristic mistakes, our overall skill and speed still prevailed in fine order,” Harbert said. “Even though the college lads tried hard, they were never a threat in the entire 80-minute match.”
The defense for the Crusaders’ sides kept the Falcons on the back foot for the majority of the matches. The forwards met runners either at or behind the gain line. When the Falcons unleashed the speed merchants, the Crusaders’ backs limited the yards conceded. There were several instances throughout the afternoon when the Falcons solved the puzzle of the Crusaders’ defense and broke the defensive line. For the most part, the Cleveland club members swallowed up the ball carrier and preserved the integrity of the try line. Still, some Falcons squeaked through and put points on the board.
While the results were one-sided, the score wasn’t the main focus. This leg of the Crusade was a goodwill mission and it ended as such. There was no ill will at the end of the match, and aside from a few bumps and bruises nobody was worse for wear.
The Crusaders are off for the Easter break but will come back to quite the challenge the following Saturday. In the first of the team’s home matches, the Crusaders will face off against a former Division I club – Buffalo. Kick off for the early-April encounter will be 1:00pm.
|March 19, 2016||1:00 PM||Friendly||2016 Spring|
|Cleveland - Metroparks - Ox Bow Ln Chagrin River Rd|
|Chagrin River Road, Gates Mills, OH 44040, USA|