This weekend the Cleveland Crusaders head to the northern wilds of Detroit to put the final polish on the fall season. Last time the Crusaders played Detroit RFC, the result was most assuredly in favor of Cleveland so repeating that result shouldn’t be out of the question, especially considering last week’s comprehensive victory over Dayton.
When it comes to the Crusaders’ game plan for Saturday, it will all be a matter of execution and keeping up the quality that has presented itself so far this season.
On offense, speed and continuity will be the keys to putting up points. Last week, the Crusaders’ backs accounted for seven of the team’s total tries. Flyhalf Nick Vivani, wing Scott Wallace and fullback Nick Musarra did the majority of the damage for the speed merchants. In the early going of the match, the ball went out wide and it was a matter of clinical execution from there; and towards the twilight moments of the competition the inside angles opened up, which allowed for Viviani to put up some points other than conversions. Where the backs took hard shots at the defensive line for Dayton, it was death by one million cuts when it came to the forwards for the most part. Sustained pressure pressed the visitors backwards and caused Dayton to concede penalties – and the Crusaders capitalized on each instance of poor discipline perpetrated by the Pigs.
One of Zach Webb’s three tries was a essentially walked in off of a quick-tap taken deep in enemy territory. Later on, the pack finished off a series of plays by grinding out a try from five meters out. The pack’s presence on the field even helped produce points in the back line. Michael Travis produced the ball after a lost lineout. The ensuing play resulted in a try on the opposite side of the field. Despite individual performances and flashes of brilliance, what held the offense for the Crusaders together for the Cleveland side was the combination of ball movement and support running. There was rarely a solo-effort try the entire match, and no runner that crossed the try line alone. If the Crusaders come with those two elements of play firing on all cylinders it could mean another great result at the end of the match.
Defense will have to be as hard-nosed as ever. Protecting the fringes at the breakdown will have to be ever-present and the midfield tackling will have to be precise. The entire team has had a hand in cutting down the points conceded, but Tyler Best and William Regan have been enormous assets in this respect, snuffing out offense by chopping runners to the ground or slowly suffocating hopes of points with choke tackles. If the defense in Detroit is able to limit the yards the opposition collects and pushes runners behind the gain line, the rest should take care of itself.
Though history and momentum are on the side of the Crusaders, there is still an opportunity to cough up a loss. Sunlight has not been a friend to the Crusaders in recent weeks. Practices have been shortened as days have shortened, which doesn’t allow for much fine tuning to take place. A little rust can go a long way, and if mistakes mount up Saturday could be a long day for the Crusaders. The Crusaders could also get in their own way. The sports world is full of players and teams falling prey to the big game scenario and letting the magnitude of the event getting into players’ heads. Well, this match is the exact opposite and could have the very same effect. If the players come in and aren’t mentally switched on, Detroit will take advantage.
The Crusaders depart for Detroit at 8:00am on Saturday in preparation for a 1:00pm kickoff. Stay tuned for the results from the fall’s last match, and remember that it’s never too late to #JoinTheCrusade.
|November 7, 2015||1:00 PM||Midwest Eastern League||2015|
|Detroit RFC - Farwell Field|
|4444 East 8 Mile Road, Detroit, MI 48234, USA|
|2||Trent Szente 18||Hooker||0||0||0||0|
|4||Justin Rutledge 20||Lock||1||0||0||0|
|6||Taryn Avon 26||Flanker||0||0||0||0|
|8||Zachary Webb||Number Eight||1||0||0||0|
|12||Tyler Best 23||Center||1||0||0||0|
|13||William Regan 22||Center||0||0||0||0|
|18||Kristopher Regan 2||Flanker||0||0||0||0|
|20||Terrence Kilbane 4||Flanker||0||0||0||0|
|22||Steven Wolnik 13||Full-back||0||0||0||0|
|23||Mark Staron II 12||Scrum-half||0||0||0||0|
|26||Allen Lee 6||Prop||0||0||0||0|
|38||Jason Geanuracos||Number Eight||0||0||0||0|