Darmstadt Rugby 34 – 24 Eintracht Frankfurt
After over a year since the wild boar rampage, rugby finally returned to Ziegelbusch. And what a way for it to return; the season opener of the 23/24 Hessen League against Eintracht turned out to be another thrilling encounter. However, things were not easy – following a couple of brutal weeks in training and a rather enjoyable trip to the RWC opening weekend in Marseilles, the Darmstadt squad was low on numbers, only able to field 18 half-fit players, including 6 front-rows in the starting pack.
The game kicked off and it appeared half the Darmstadt boys still thought they were on holiday in Marseilles, conceding an early try due to weak defending round the ruck. After an ear-bashing from Lorenzo, who arrived straight from a flight from Canada half an hour from kick-off and looked the freshest out of the Darmstadt team in the opening minutes, the boys finally switched on. Two quick tap and go penalties led to Henry barrelling through defenders at close range after a quick pop from Philip to score. Some good defence pressure then led to a lose Eintracht pass that Martin gathered and dotted down under the posts. Darmstadt then built momentum, with some strong forwards plays and carries leading to Patrick M grabbing another try after a pick and go. Darmstadt’s lack of discipline, however, started to take a toll. Nils saw yellow after a number of scrum penalties, and Eintracht capitalised to score after a nice switch move targeted the lack of number 8 cover from the scrum. Just before half-time Darmstadt were able to add another, the forwards and backs combining phases nicely before Henry found some space in the defence line to add a fourth try. Half-time 26-12.
The second-half started well, with Darmstadt adding another quick try after some nice backs play put Artem through to beat his defender and score. However, it was immediately cancelled out by a powerful Frankfurt carry finding space round the ruck to score under the posts. Amazingly though, PvH somehow managed to charge down the conversion – a trick he has now somehow managed to pull off on multiple occasions. Shortly afterwards, with an attacking scrum 10m out, Mauro tried to be too cute in his blocking run to give the number 8 pick more space and saw yellow for blocking two Eintracht defenders. In fairness, Eintracht responded by getting a yellow of their own. The game then began to slow a bit as Darmstadt too frequently gave up the ball in the lineout and open play. The attack looked dangerous and the interplay with backs and forwards was good, but discipline ultimately cost momentum. No sooner had Mauro come back on the pitch then Eric went off with a yellow card, with Darmstadt seemingly determined to play as much of the game as possible with 14 men. The situation wasn’t helped when during an Eintracht lineout on the halfway, Artem went off to answer a phone call, leaving Darmstadt momentarily down to 13. With tired legs on the field, the debutants Kerim and Konstantin as well as returning old boy Christoph made a nice impact off the bench. However, despite some strong defence, including number of Darmstadt turnovers, Eintracht began to build back into the game and eventually grabbed another try. With a few minutes to go, Henry took a penalty to build some safety margin into the scoreboard with end result 34-24 to Darmstadt.
Many thanks to Eintracht for an enjoyable and well-fought game, it was a cracking start to the season. Thanks to the ref as well for a strict but fairly officiated match. And thank you to all who helped out to prepare the pitch and prepare for the match, and of course a big thanks to the supporters who cheered us on. See you for the next one!
Some other highlights:
- After giving a 10-minute lecture in training earlier in the week on how to take a quick tap-and-go penalty off the ground, Philip decided to ignore all his own advice and tap-go from his hand. only to knock it on. If that wasn’t bad enough, he did the same thing again 10 minutes later.
- With Gerrit out injured, Henry stepped up in his place with a vomit on the pitch after only 30 mins played – the result of a combination of heat stroke and (mainly) terrible fitness
- With three hookers on the pitch, Darmstadt were somehow seemingly unable complete a lineout without some sort of penalty infringement. On the other hand, the scrum was pretty dominant which may have been great for the team but less than great for the recently repaired pitch
MoM – Rupert „soapless“ Adams for a solid first game at 10, commanding the game well and, crucially, actually catching the ball
DoD – Mauro „offensive lineman“ Pagan Griso who was also a MoM candidate if not for his wild NFL blocker move which earned him a yellow card