The 2017 season looked to be coming to a premature end this past Saturday for the Crusaders Sr, Men in Ottawa. An error filled 1st half saw the Crusaders down by a score of 3 – 18 after their opponents, the Bytown Blues, scored their 3rd Try of the game on a fortuitous bounce of the ball early in the 2nd half.
As the chances of an away victory looked bleak and the end the season a mere 35 minutes away, the Crusaders led by Captain Jamie Leveridge and Man of the Match Andrew Wilson turned the corner and all of a sudden the phases started to build and the Bytown defence was stretched and put under the pressure. In the 46th minute Wilson picked from the base of a scrum and broke several tackles. With the defence in disarray Avery Lecce broke a tackle and went over the line to start the comeback at 8 – 18. The Try gave the Crusaders hope and their execution and accuracy in attack continued to turn the screws on their opponent’s tiring defence. In the 60th minute the turning point occurred as Bytown was given a Yellow Card for foul play. A minute later, Wilson crashed over the line from a 5 meter lineout and the Cru were all of a sudden back in the game 13 – 18 as the game headed to the final quarter. Off the ensuing kick-off the Crusaders received another huge break as Bytown was given a 2nd Yellow Card for another piece of foul play. Minutes later Captain Leveridge powered through a tackle on the goal line and touched down to bring the score to 18 – 18. The game was headed for a dramatic end as Bytown finally got back to full strength but the change in momentum was quite obvious. The Crusaders defence held as they pinned Bytown in their own end and eventually won a last chance scrum in the 79th minute. From the Scrum impressive Rookie Jackson Vause bulldozed his way through the Bytown tacklers and headed for the Try line only to be tackled 15 meters out, but the defence was now in scramble mode and under serious trouble. The Crusaders kept the ball tight and slowly made their way to the line and after some staunch defence repelled several charges at the line, the ball was moved to Wilson who ran through the would be tackler to score the dramatic game winning Try at the death. Brad Watts converted the Try and then the Referee blew for full-time and the celebrations began.
“We showed a ton of heart and resolve to overcome our poor performance in the 1st half and clinch our spot in the Final next weekend.” stated Head Coach Rodin Lozada. “That sort of character is a sign of the how good this team is going to be as we move forward in the future.”
The victory sees the Crusaders face the Aurora Barbarians, who beat Lindsay RFC with a 39 – 38 upset victory, in the McCormick Cup Consolation Final. The match will take place on Saturday October 21st at Fletcher’s Fields with a 11:30 am kick-off.