Sun 06.05.18, 14:00 Hours | Allmend Brunau, Zürich
Tight win for First Team against Stade Lausanne
Quite where Stade Lausanne will be playing their rugby next season remains unclear but having been set a challenge not by their coach but ours, the visitors arrived on the sun-kissed Zurich pitch with fire in their bellies.
The team hanging at the bottom of the Championship was irked by comments made by coach Alex Ramon, and quickly threw GC's script out of the window by showing huge determination and organisation to capitalise on lacklustre starts to both halves of the game by the Grasshoppers.
Spreading the ball from side to side, breaking through weak tackling and ingeniously frustrating the GC front-row the visitors scored an early try to show that no team in the LNA should be disrespected. A welcome reminder before GC's fixtures against tough sides Avusy and CERN.
With ball in hand, however, Zurich seemed to be finding gaps and managed to take points from two penalties after visiting the 22 only twice. Thereafter it seemed like things were beginning to click, with our favourite Croatian Ivan receiving the ball on the right, streaming past defenders with ease and conserving the ball when smashed by a defender to perfectly set up a try for our favourite Asian, Liechti. Liechti, who has been out for a good part of the year with injury, will hope to be on top form come the semi-finals, with the tough season taking its toll on our back row.
With the score 13-7 at half-time, the Zurich faithful could have hoped for the perfect reaction from the GC XV, but it was not to be: a fumble in front of the posts after a sneaky grubber-kick allowed the visitors to take the lead. Unable to conserve the ball for long periods, Zurich conceded a scrum five metres out, which allowed the Stade fly-half to spring inside his opposite number and surprisingly get through the back-row cover with ease. The Grasshoppers had their backs against the wall.
In a rare occurrence, Zurich managed to hold on to the ball in the Stade 22 and Finlay Small deftly switched the direction of play, allowing GC to come back on the scoreboard. At 20-21, it was not yet enough.
Stade was hoping to make Zurich play from deep by lobbing long kicks behind our back three, but it was not to be as graceful running from the trio brought Zurich back into the Stade half time and time again. This allowed Zurich to slot a penalty and take the lead for only the second time of the match.
Great kicking by Finlay "the lid" Small and superb chasing by the diminutive Louis Reyes allowed Zurich to set up field position and after our Luxemburg international crashed the ball up under the posts, the hosts were rewarded with an easy run-in by Diego: who incredibly managed to miss the rabbit!
A sour victory. Lots to work on in the coming weeks before the biggest challenge of the season: hopefully hosting a semi-final!