After winning the local (Central) divisional play-off final last Wednesday evening – The Crusaders U17-boys went-on to play in the Provisional Championship Finals day on Sunday Aug-25 – playing against the winners of the other local divisions. This was a straight knock-out competition event, with shortened (30-minute) games, meaning that the boys had to play “hard” right from the very start.
First-up was the game vs Barrie RFC – the dewy morning conditions made for a slippery ball, and we saw a few early handling-errors by both teams, but it was Crusaders who got into their stride first. The big and powerful strike runners from the Barrie team proved hard to stop, but low-tackles and quick-jackling meant Crusaders could turn defence into attack, and with good-vision, pacey-footwork, the Cru boys made some big territorial gains. With the Barrie defence in scramble-mode, swift-hands exploited the spaces, and Crusaders converted that pressure into points, with a few very nicely worked tries. Barrie were not disheartened – and hit back late-on with a score of their-own, but too-little-too-late to catch the Crusaders – who advanced into the semi-final
In the Semis – the boys faced a fast-and-furious Aurora squad. A tough, physical battle in the pack, where the Crusaders had to work very hard to gain possession and secure any decent ball, but by sticking to their game-plan, the Cru team worked for those “hard-yards” – sucked in the seagulling defenders, and then released fast ball out to the eager back-line, who worked their silky-magic to convert into points.
Twice in the game Crusaders were temporarily reduced to only 14, as players were sin-binned for too many repeat penalty transgressions. This added pressure onto the remaining Cru defenders, who all had to work very hard to prevent the Aurora team from exploiting the inevitable over-laps. A tight-affair right to the final whistle, but with the win secured, Crusaders advanced to face Oshawa Vikings in the final.
The final proved to be an even tougher-affair for the Cru-boys. The well-drilled Oshawa team dominated the early possession, and were highly skilled and containing and recycling ruck-ball. Some determined tackling from the Cru defenders prevented the Oshawa team from making significant line-breaks. But on a few occasions it came down to a reliance upon the terrific take-down-talents of full-back and man-of-the-tournament, Stefan Van Niekerk, (a few too many times for the coaches liking).
The Vikings clocked up the first score – but this helped to re-focus the Crusaders, who hit back before the half to equalize. In the second-period, Crusaders added to their score via the dependable right boot of fly-half Daniel Sanders. With the game still finely balanced – captain and on-field leader, Liam-Bowman, timed a perfect interception, and out-paced the Oshawa chasers to dot-down under the posts. The Cru-boys manged to stifle the persistent attacking thrusts from the Vikings for the remainder of the game, and scored one final break-away try close to the finish, but were all thoroughly elated (if exhausted), when that final whistle eventually blew.
Congratulations – 2019 U17 Provincial Champions – Hoorar!
The Boys Dun Good !