Let's be honest, the away trip to Jyväskylä in mid-August was far from being the finest hour for HRC's 1st XV team.
A few weeks before we'd beaten Jyväskylä at home 22-17. So this was our chance to hit the road, and hit JRC hard in a bid to boost our season.
But it's tough to play a winning hand when only 16 guys plus the team manager showed up for the journey to Central Finland - including one player making his rugby debut. It was a pretty sad state of affairs and we only have ourselves to blame for the eventual loss.
It's not that we didn't play some attractive rugby or show depth of spirit on the pitch. But when each player knows he won't be switched out, or there's only one untested substitute for injuries, then everyone has to soldier on against the odds which were stacked against us. By comparison, Jyväskylä had around 30 players kitted up at the side of the pitch to call on.
Despite the best efforts of the guys who did show enough commitment to make themselves available, Jyväskylä were 42-13 winners when the final whistle blew.
Chalk this game up to "should have won, could have won, didn't win". And that's no disrespect to the players who tried very hard on the day: they gave more than they should have been expected to, and drew upon their last reserves of energy and skills to give JRC a damn tough fight.
But everyone else who didn't bother showing up that day needs to ask themselves if they were part of the problem in 2012, and whether they're willing or want to do better in 2013.
Match report by David Mac Dougall
There was a still a theoretical chance for HRC to reach the semi-finals in the Championship this year but that meant that HRC had to win the remaining matches with a bonus point. The HRC bus travelled to Jyväskylä against fierce and very physical Jyväskylä rugby club. Unfortunately, the turnout for the trip wasn't impressive, HRC had only one substititute player with them. Injuries, bans and unknown reasons for absence had left the team to a very uncomfortable situation, but quitting was never an option.
The game started and the intensity and bone crunching action was there from the very first minute. Jyväskylä put a lot of pressure to the rucks but HRC managed to create some good runs and soon, a penalty was awarded and the special guest star of HRC, Francois, kicked the first three points of the match. Then, Jyväskylä hit the pedal to the metal and started to hammer HRC's defence wall with continuous crash balls and they managed to get the ball over the try line quite a few times, but superb HRC defence managed to hold up the ball. But the gallant efforts were not enough to stop Jyväskylä from scoring the tries. JRC managed to extend their lead to 12-3, but HRC fought back and a try from Simon Elliot closed the gap to only 5 points. Jyväskylä didn't panic and started to squeeze off everything from their physical, almost brutal ball carriers and they responded with a converted try and a penalty, so when the whistle was blown for the half-time, JRC lead 22-8.
Half time speeches were given and spirited HRC walked back to the pitch. HRC got into the trouble as Chris Denholm was sent to the sin bin but Mikko Moilanen provided some magic and scored a try. Score was 22-13, and this was, unfortunately, the closest HRC could get anymore, as JRC stroke back by scoring three tries, a conversion and a penalty. HRC's problem was that scrums were a bit shaky and lineouts simply didn't work. HRC was able to match JRC's physicality, but at the end, JRC scored clinically the points they needed. Final score was 42-13 for JRC.
Despite the loss, some promising performances were seen from the men in white. Mikko Moilanen's scrum half work was precise and he also was able to provide some x-factor. Stephen Whitaker showed why he is a worthy Finnish national team captain by his never-say-die attitude. The chances to reach the semi-finals was gone, but season was far from over.
Match report by Ville Siiskonen