Two matches left in the Championship and as the chances to reach the semis were already gone, all that was left for playing was the chance to kick some Tampere butt, which always motivates. Despite some changes, especially in the back line, a strong team was again fielded by the merry men of HRC. Everybody knew that Tampere was going to be one tough mountain to climb, as they had smashed Turku Eagles 66-0 a week before! Also, the first encounter between HRC and Tampere was dominated by the Reds from Finland's Manchester, so HRC had to up their game. And what a fight it was.
The start of the game was dark. Almost straight from the kick-off, Tampere scored a try because of an unfortunate bounce and a missed tackle and it looked like Tampere was setting the pace from the very first minute. But HRC had other thoughts. A combination of muscular forward play and exhilarating back play, HRC started to dominate the game simply by creeping meter by meter towards Tampere's try line. Stephen Whittaker was almost over the try line but try was disallowed. However, Chirs Denholm, who was again playing a superb game, managed rumble over Tampere's defence and score a well deserved try.
Then, the game remained very even, with both teams having chances. Tampere suffered from a poor discipline and a combination of red and yellow cards to properly heated Tampere players gave HRC a golden chance to hit the jackpot. But, as so often it happens, a knock-on in a moment when the ball should have been caught or a ball taken into contact and turned over ruined the chances to ran away from Tampere. Especially knock-ons spoiled many of HRC's chances. When the game was approaching the final minutes, Tampere then capitalized their chances and ran away. The final score: 7-29 to Tampere.
This lost particularly confused the whole team. Although Tampere deservedly won, it felt that it was more that HRC had lost the game rather than Tampere won it. There was a lot of things that impressed the whole team: the discipline was very good, HRC physically matched Tampere and some great individual performance were seen. A first team debutant Stuart Wells particularly played a fantastic game both offensively and defensively. Thierry Demoulin showed that his playing days are definitely not over yet and showed some fascinating skills. Kevin McCarthy, Mehdi Marami and Michael Kennedy all showed that they can reach their A-game every weekend without forgetting Chris Denholm. But, it feels like that something crucial is missing in every game.
Match report by Ville Siiskonen