The second match of the Championship was played at home in Myllypuro and this time, Eagles travelled all over from Turku to challenge HRC. Eagles had started the season very strongly as they had beaten WRC 27-5, so a tough and hungry team was going to make HRC's afternoon very difficult.
HRC started the game very strongly again, keeping the ball and forwards made a lot of hard yards. But, just like in WRC, as soon as Turku got their chance to counter-attack, they used their opportunity and scored the opening try of the game with a succesful conversion. But then, HRC's Estonian powerhouse Karl-Henry Korjus ran a spetacular running line and scored a try in his HRC debut, simply just neglecting Eagles' attempt to tackle him. Juhani converted the try. And more was to come from our gallant men in white. Joonas Nevakivi suffered an injury and Petri Lackman stepped in to replace him. After few minutes, HRC controlled the ball near the Eagles try line and the ball was played to the wing. Lackman decided to do what nobody imagined him to do: he kicked the ball over the Eagles defender, chased the ball and after miscalculation from the Eagles defender, the ball was beautifully grounded by Petri. A great piece of individual skill from the former hooker. Conversion was missed, half-time came and HRC was flying high.
Second half started off very well as Juhani's boot hit the target and HRC solidified its lead. But Eagles fought back and a try and conversion followed. Score was nailbiting 15-14 for HRC. Then, a black moment happened. Penalty was awarded to HRC and Juhani stepped confidently on the kicker's spot. His kick flew over the post, which both touch judges saw to be in and raised their flag. HRC celebrated and turned their back to the goal, which happened to be a crucial mistake. The match referee, Sebastian Garcia, said that the kick was not in and overruled touch judges' decisions, and, as the law book correctly says, 22-meter-line kick-off was awarded to Eagles. They saw their chance, made a short kick and ran almost to the HRC try line. After few phases, when HRC's defence line was all over the place, Eagles scored a try and converted it. This had a tough physical impact to HRC and after this, Eagles finished the game with one more converted game. A valiant loss for HRC, but, at the end of the day, HRC left the pitch once again empty handed.
Despite criticism was thrown to the referees dodgy situation, the sole responsibility for the game changing moment was HRC's, especially captain's. The lesson was: "Never turn your back until the referee has made his decison." But, it's a learning process and after this, HRC certainly will never make the same mistake again. And, despite the loss, there was a lot of positives to take on board. Lineouts were light years further than against WRC and HRC forward pack showed that getting driven back over the gain line was just not an option. Backs made some thrilling perfomances, too. HRC debutant Karl-Henry showed sheer power and pace and both Simon Elliot and Andrew Myrie put in some spetacular tackles. Man of the Match was, however, a forward. Chris Denholm switched from last week's flanker position to hooker and his lineout throws, fierce tackling and strong running lines gave him a well deserved MoM-title.
Match report by Ville Siiskonen