The Cleveland Rugby Club defeated two college teams in successive weekends. They put up over one hundred points on Ohio University last week in Athens,OH and put together a performance against Ohio State University that netted them over 50 points this weekend.
Both matches were hard-hitting affairs where execution was the name of the game.
Against OU last week, continuity was a bit of an issue as timing was off when running offensive lines in that backs and defensive assignments were missed on a few occasions. The Club had a number of absences in that lineup at that game and a number of players were out of position during the match. On the plus side, set pieces were solid and the Club dominated the scrums and lineouts. The forwards for the Club capitalized on mistakes made by the Bobcats and stole the ball away on a number of occasions. The backs also made life difficult for their opponents, smothering the attacks by OU, for the most part, and not allowing them many chances to mount an offense.
Ohio University didn’t roll over and die, though. They made nuisances of themselves at the breakdown, turning the ball over frequently in a back-and-forth battle that lasted the full 80 minutes of the match. They also exploited players out of position and placed chip kicks over the defensive line to create tries and put points on the board.
This past weekend, the Club came to the match with a fool complement of players and subs to spare. The preparation and personnel present paid dividends against the Buckeyes as attacks were more crisp and the flow was certainly back in the offense. The ball transferred easily from one side of the field to the other and from forwards to backs, and vice versa, during open field play. The ball was held securely at the breakdown for the most part, which helped the offensive flow. The flow got disrupted a bit as the Club called upon its reserves to finish out the match. Defensive structure suffered a bit and the offense slowed as the fresh legs took the field. Fortunately, their skills were enough to protect the established lead and add on a few points to ensure they got the win. As competition gets more serious, these subs will need to play tougher if they hope to be effective against the stronger competition down the line.
While Ohio State didn’t seem to have an answer for the Club’s lineout formations, they made things more than a contest at the scrums. Though they were smaller in the forwards for the most part, OSU used superior positioning to put pressure on Cleveland’s pack. At every scrum they threatened to steal the ball from the Club and kept their ball secure for the most part. Despite some muddy conditions the scrums stayed up and safe the entire match.
The toughness of the competition facing the Club had only gone up in recent weeks, and that tend will only continue in the near future. They play host to the Detroit RFC and the West Side Mouth-Breathers before heading up north to tangle with the Tradesmen. The Club will need to take care their issues in execution, sort out their subs and cut out the penalties if they hope to have success down the road.