By Justin Rutledge | 09.17.15
The Cleveland Crusaders traveled to Dayton over the weekend in an effort to rebound after a loss to the Detroit Tradesmen. Though the team traveled with a full side and one and one-half subs to call upon, the Crusaders secured a decisive victory in a matter that proved ugly but effective.
“This week was a week for us to dial back in, regroup, refocus, and get back on track by taking care of our business,” said Donnie Harbert, head coach of the Crusaders. “The conditions were very slippery and sloppy prior to kickoff, so mistakes were inevitable. Despite a number of mistakes and mishandles in the first half, we were able to persevere.”
The Crusaders hit the ground running on offense, putting in five tries in the opening half. Two minutes into the half, the Crusaders drew blood and scored almost like clockwork after that. Another Crusader crossed over at the 12-minute mark, followed by Joe Brown and Billy Regan at the 19- and 15-minute marks, respectively. Terry Kilbane ended the first half of competition with a try at the 35-minute mark. Nick Viviani complemented every try with a conversion. He also slotted a penalty kick to add three more points to his tally for the day. Last time Viviani visited the Dayton Rugby Grounds he might have left his kicking boots at home, but he definitely brought them Saturday. Before the match began, the Crusaders players set a goal of obtaining a shutout on the day, and the Cleveland outfit was well on its way to that end when halftime came.
The second half was all Cleveland as well. Regan got his second try in the second half to go along with Steve Fritsch, who also doubled up before the day was over. Scott Wallace showed up on the scorecard in the dying minutes of the match as well and closed out the match on a positive note.
The second half wasn’t a spotless one for the Crusaders, though. Ill discipline allowed Dayton to get on the board with a three-pointer, and frustration at the ruck landed one of the Cleveland players in the sin bin during the twilight minutes of the match. The fact that Dayton was only able to get three points Saturday is, not only, a testament to the Crusaders’ effective offense but the team’s suffocating defense. According to Harbert, the first-up tackles greatly improved from the previous match and the counter attack pressure ensured any space Dayton attempted to gain through the air was quickly stifled.
Despite traveling with a skeleton crew into hostile territory and playing in sloppy conditions, the result for the Crusaders was an overtly positive one. The final score of the match: 57-3 in favor of the Crusaders.
“While traveling with only one substitute available, and in difficult conditions, we were able to play our most complete game to date by employing all three of our pillars – speed, aggression and discipline,” Harbert said. “While we are still not at our full potential, this was another step forward as we continue to raise the bar for ourselves.”
The Crusaders have the weekend off but will return to action on October 3, when Detroit RFC will come to town and try to take a win against the league’s new kids on the block.
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By Justin Rutledge | 09.17.15
The Cleveland Crusaders are on the road again this weekend, though the groups traveling resemble the Light Brigade rather than an army of crusaders. Though injury and obligations have depleted the number of Clevelanders traveling to Dayton and Mount Pleasant, the groups going are solid and should be able to take a tough 80 minutes on the road and bring home wins.
The Crusaders heading to Dayton will be looking to rebound after getting into a slugfest – literally – with the Tradesmen last weekend and suffering a loss. Some of the big guns are missing from last weekend’s lineup for the Crusaders. Tony Brown, Michael Travis, Evan Johnson and Taryn Avon are out with various injuries in the forwards, while Tyler Best and Derek Imes will be absent this weekend in the back line. That’s the bad news. Now for the good news. The bulk of the lineup has remained unchanged in the back line and the forwards filling in are just as dangerous as their injured counterparts.
Scott Liechty will join Tom Nemeth and Pat Rahill – no “y” – in the front row, while Justin Rutledge and Joe Brown will be in the second row completing the engine room of the Crusaders’ scrum. Trent Szente and Terry Kilbane will take up flanker duties. If people in Dayton see two red streaks to be flying across the field it’s these two making their presences known.
The back line has been more shuffled than altered for Saturday. Nick Musarra will be in the mix more, running scrumhalf in Imes’ stead. Stene Burke will be bumping in towards the middle of the field a bit more to take the center of the field with Billy Regan. Steve Fritsch makes his DII debut at wing, opposite Scott Wallace, and Preston Lowden will get the start at fullback.
Kritter Regan will be the lone replacement for the Crusaders.
This weekend’s competition was near the bottom of the table last year, whereas the Tradesmen were at the top. The danger in playing teams that had such different finishes last year is mentally writing off the lesser of the two evils. If the Crusaders go down to Dayton expecting to walk on the field and walk over Dayton to get the win, there will be a rude awakening and likely another loss. If the Crusaders treat the Pigs like the Tradesmen, taking home a win is a definite possibility.
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The BlueSaders have a tough road to travel in Pennsylvania this weekend. Not only is Greensburg an unknown team, players will have to deal with Allegheny referees, who are notorious for making questionable calls. If the BluSaders play with discipline and purpose they should be able to solve the mystery and overcome any other issues that might arise during the match. What is known is who the BlueSaders have on the field and what they can do.
The pack remains unchanged for the BlueSaders. The mixture of experience and intensity remains unchanged in the forward pack. Mo Pahulu was the hero of the day last weekend, so if the BlueSaders get in a tight spot expect him to be the one to pull out another stellar play to put his team ahead in the end. The remaining pack members are expected to continue their solid performances and keep their counterparts under control on Saturday.
Like last week, the back line can lay the wood or breeze past defenders, as they choose. In the later minutes of the match, once the opposition tires, the backs should be able to release into the back field more easily and get some link play going on. Ryan Sands and Jason Geanuracos will punish the middle of the field in an effort to gain yards. If that doesn’t work it will open up space on the side for the team’s speed merchants, the two Steves – Wolnik and Anthony. The BlueSaders will debut excited rookie DeVonte Martin on the wing. This should be fun.
Consolidated as the team’s rosters might be, the Crusaders and BlueSaders are traveling with groups that are more than capable of bringing home wins. As long as they play DAS RUGBY – that’s rugby with Discipline, Aggression and Speed – Dayton and Greensburg don’t stand a chance.
“…Honour the charge they made, Honour the Light Brigade.”
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|September 19, 2015||1:00 PM||Midwest Eastern League||2015|
|Dayton - Rugby Grounds|
|620 Shiloh Drive, Dayton, OH 45415, USA|
|1||Dayton D2 Player||Wing||0||0||1||0|