One week later than expected, and on a different pitch (the first being deemed too drenched for play) Causse Vézère welcomed Sarlat Rugby for an overcast afternoon of Rugby. The B teams were the first to take to the green – and muddy – pitch. The pressure was on for the visitors to prove themselves after a two game loss streak.
The game did not start out well for Sarlat Rugby, with the locals opening the score on a penalty, 3 – 0. While this could have broken the visitors morale, it kindled their resolve instead, and they started to push back harder.
Sarlat Rugby’s first opportunity came when their number 9 Xavier Padilla recovered the ball at the 60 meter line and ducked through the defences of causse Vézère. A team effort, the long distance try was brought home by Nicolas Daynac. With the successful conversion of Maël Louradour, the visitors took the lead 3-7.
Bolstered by their success, Sarlat Rugby’s determined B team kept pushing. Gaining ground on successfully negotiated scrums and face-offs, the team dominated the pitch. Further proof of their renewed vigor and spirit came when Etienne Pontagnier scored a second try for the team, sprinting ahead of Causse Vézère defenders. Louradour’s conversion pushed their lead up to 3-14.
While they might have stopped there, Sarlat Rugby kept going: preventing each attempt by Causse Vézère to narrow the lead. They even got in one more penalty conversion before the whistle, for a half time score of 3-17. A comfortable lead, but the weather was changing.
While the first half had been marked by light rain and mud, the clouds had been building up. And shortly after returning to the pitch, the two teams got to enjoy some very cold showers as the storm broke. Drenched players and referees actually paused the play for a few moments as the worst of the rain hammered down.
The weather made for a very different second half, with both teams struggling in the cold, wet, and wind. Sarlat Rugby had a harder time stopping their hosts, finally letting through some of their plays.
Causse Vézère were able to both open the score, on a penalty, and earned themselves a try soon after. Closing the gap on the score: 13-17. Sarlat Rugby still had some lead to spare, but they could not afford to keep giving ground. Despite the rain, the visiting team rallied and pushed back, giving themselves enough room to score another 3 points. 13-20.
Play slowed then, both teams struggling to gain ground in the rain. Despite several back and forths, the pace had changed. Neither team were able to open enough room for another try, and it came down to the kickers. Kickers who had to deal with driving rain and wind: yet both teams were able to score once more, with Sarlat Rugby having the final word off Louradour’s talented foot.
The score ended at 16-23, a solid lead for Sarlat Rugby’s B team, who could rejoice in their first win. And warm showers.
The game had been a test of the potential they had shown despite previous losses. They demonstrated strong solidarity and well-managed aggression, stopping their opponents in their tracks in the first half, and adapting to inclement weather in the second to secure their first hard-earned win.