The HRC 2nd team started its season on Saturday June 6th when they played against Åland Stags in Myllypuro, Helsinki. Stags had joined the Finnish 1st (=2nd) division this year and had already started its season with a loss against Pori. For HRC, Åland provided to be an exciting opposition, the clubs had never played against each other.
The game started and for the first 15 minutes, HRC's Blue Tigers dominated the game. HRC's forwards played a simple but effective game where they continuously crashed towards the Stags defence line. And when the ball was played to the backs, they managed to make 10 to 20 metres of ground. This patient pressure was finally rewarded with a penalty and HRC's vice captain Rory McIntyre confidently slotted it. A couple of minutes later, close to the Stag's 22 metre line, after a forward phase Rory ran a beautiful line to score a try under the posts, followed by succesful conversion from his boot. The score was 10-0 to HRC but Stags stroke back with a try to make it 10-5. After this, the game was more balanced as the Stags got to hold the ball more but it didn't prevent HRC from scoring the next points as HRC were putting the pressure on in Stag's defensive area. Jarno Warsa-Ritaranta showed true Blue Tiger agility as he collected a loose ball from the ground and the counter attack begun. Second rower Hannu Hooman, playing his first ever game, ran an excellent line and scored right next to the goal posts. Rory converted and the score was 17-5. This score was also the score in half time.
The second half began with another try from the Blue Tigers as Vincent Garonne scored and after an unsuccesful conversion by Rory, the score was 22-5. However, Rory managed to score a penalty after this and extended the lead to 25-5, which eventually proved to be the match winning penalty. Åland started to gain momentum and as HRC missed tackles the visitors were rewarded with a converted try. The score was 25-12. And this was only the beginning for Åland's threatening comeback. Åland managed to utilize their strong forwards and as their backs got more confident with the ball in hand, HRC's defence was battling against time. The game wasn't as one-sided as it sounds, the Blue Tigers managed get the ball a few times close to the opposition try line. The forwards especially kept the ball alive with excellent offloading, but the killer blow was missing. Åland kept going strong and scored another try, without the conversion though, to make the score 25-17 and after a strong display from their forwards they scored under the posts, even though they were playing with 13 players due to an injury and a yellow card. The score was 25-24 and a thrilling last few minutes of the game ensued. But for HRC's joy, Åland's impressive comeback fell short and the final score was 25-24, meaning that HRC Blue Tigers took its first win of the season in the opening match.
Åland was a great opponent, they played clean rugby and were good bunch of lads. Their number 15, Landon Moore, played an impressive match and, therefore, was awarded with the Opposition's Man of the Match award. A lot of the Blue Tigers had a special day: Teemu Miettinen and Pasi Vainio played their first match for HRC whereas Hannu Hooman and Michael Blackley played their first ever rugby match. And it was a debut for our four juniors: Lionel Irrmann, Leo Cantell, Aku Kosonen and Miika Kalliokoski. All the debutants and the more experienced HRC players made the club proud. There was some excellent performances: Emmanuel Courbin played a very mature game as a captain of the team. Ultimately, Man of the Match was an easy choice, though. Vice captain Rory McIntyre played his first game as number 10 and was an essential key to the team's success. He was reliable from the boot, not only on his goal kicking, but also open play kicks were reliable and effective. His tackling game was superb as well as his game management.
The Blue Tigers will play next agains Pori on July 4th.
Match report by Ville Siiskonen