The season has been one of promise for the Sarlat Rugby B team. They have been on an upwards trajectory, getting close defeats until last week when they seized their first win in the rain. This latest weekend saw them go up against the current bracket leaders; the pressure was on.
A home game, with Sarlat Rugby welcoming Lormont, meant added attention from the fans. Seats were already starting to fill up in anticipation of the A team showdown later that afternoon. And Benji, the new team mascot, was out to cheer them on and entertain the fans and kids of the rugby school who would be showing off later. Extra pressure perhaps, but also a morale boost for the local team as they entered the Chrisitan Goumondie Stadium to cheers.
Powered up by their fans and determined to seize the day, Sarlat Rugby managed to pull into the lead. Opening up the score early in the game with a kick by Maël Louradour 3 – 0. A promising start, but signs of offensive difficulty were already beginning to show as the Lormont defense prevented further pushes.
Undeterred, the B team struggled on. Showing tactical consistency, they were finally able to get within range and score, Louradour delivering again. 6 – 0. The game seemed to be turning in Sarlat Rugby’s favor, but they had trouble capitalizing, as their attempts to get close to the opposing line were shut down or fumbled.
Lormont’s offense was also in peak shape. A team which has been playing together for years, their coordination was excellent, and smooth handoffs and footwork earned them substantial progress down the pitch. It was only a matter of time until the inevitable occurred. From but 5 meters away they were able to surge through and score their first try right up against the goal post. Taking the lead 6 – 7 after the successful conversion.
Now the cracks were starting to show in Sarlat Rugby’s B team. Lormont’s well organized offense and defense put the pressure on the local team, who started to falter. A few too many mistakes lost them precious time and ground. And when they were able to seize the momentum, imperfect discipline undermined their efforts.
Indeed, shortly before the half time, Lormont showed off their skill and took advantage of the holes in Sarlat’s defense. Left open just a few moments too long at the 22m, their number 9 got the ball to the kicker, who nailed the cross pass to their winger. He had only to jog it in for the second try of the day. Without another conversion, the score going into half time would have been 6-12, but Sarlat, invigorated by the gap in the score, narrowed it with another successful kick. 9-12.
The game was clearly not won for the visitors, but the B team players were feeling the pressure.
The B teams retook the field after half-time with renewed determination: especially Sarlat Rugby, who needed to take back the lead and shore up their defense. Lormont, meanwhile, was keen to maintain their edge and give even fewer openings to Sarlat.
Sarlat Rugby needed a big shift, but were unable to capitalize on their stronger moments, again undermined by minor errors and lack of general organization. While their offense continued to struggle, their defense was coming together better. Even though Lormont were the first to score, it was only a penalty, keeping the score close, 9-15.
Sarlat may not have been playing their best, but they gave it their all, closing the gap in the score with a penalty of their own (Louradour again!) to bring the score closer: 12-15. The struggle continued and now the teams seemed to be on more even footing, Lormont was unable to make the dramatic plays of the first half, but their defense kept Sarlat Rugby at bay as well.
Unfortunately Lormont picked up the next penalty to bring their lead up to 6 points, 12-18. Sarlat Rugby made a valiant effort to push for a try, spurred on by the crowd, but in vain. Even giving up the chance for a kick which would have narrowed the gap in favor of a push for the winning try. But without enough time on the clock, a fumble cost them to chance, and the game was up.
A disappointment for Sarlat Rugby’s B team, their first loss by more than 3 points. But they were up against a strong, well coordinated team, who have been leading the pack. A tough game which showed the B team where it can improve, and what steps it still needs to take to realize its full potential.