I´ve watched the Men´s game, won by Exiles 17 – 8 a couple of times. I don´t think I have ever seen a team so outclassed for such long periods and who still only lost by 9 points. But Exiles have to some extent only themselves to blame, which I´ll return to.
Exiles started off playing into a very strong wing in the first half but still dominated play completely. Exiles were in the Pingvin half for well over 30 minutes, they pushed the Pingvin pack all over the place, their backs were much sharper in attack and they were much faster on the ball in loose play. Pingvin just saved two or three tries with desperate defence on the line and were extremely lucky to get to the break only 10 – 3 down. Exiles continued to dominate in the second, were camped on the line from the start and finally made it 17 – 3 with another pushover try on 52”. Pingvin´s problems were compounded from the kick-off when one of their props was red-carded, presumably for tackling a player in the air. Exiles then brought on most of their bench but continued to pound the Pingvin line. How they failed to score two or three tries is a mystery, but credit must go to the Pingvin defence which performed heroically. Pingvin were hardly more than 30 metres from their line for the first half-hour, but in the last 7 – 8 minutes they worked their way up the field, mainly by being awarded a series of penalties, the count was 11 – 4 in their favour in the second half. And with last play of the game their scrum-half was able to stroll over in the corner with a new scrum-half, a new flanker and a non-existent winger unable to stop him. Extremely careless!
Exiles lost the penalty count 17 – 8 (a reversal of the points score) and this is something they must work on for next week. Exiles just had the edge in the lineout in the first half but won just one of their throw-ins in the second half (of about six) and once again this should be improved. I´m not sure why most of our star forwards were replaced either, although there is a problem here. You can´t ask young men to travel 650 km and then not give them some time on the pitch, which Exiles always do.
And perhaps once again the final explanation for the low points lead: the narrow pitch which makes it very difficult to create gaps on the outside. We´ll see how it goes on the wide open spaces of Årsta on Saturday.
All in all, this was Exiles best team of the year and their best performance. If they can iron out the above-mentioned blemishes we could see something special at Årsta.
A couple of words about the Ladies. They dominated in much the same way as the Men, but won by 6 tries to 1 instead of 2 – 1 for the Men.
Vänersborg recorded what seemed to be a comfortable win against Enköping, 26 – 8 and yet Enköping consider they were the better team on the day. We´ll see how things pan out next week in Stockholm and Vänersborg.