SM started yesterday with four teams in the North and six in the South. Only two teams each from the North and South will go to the semis while one of the three far superior teams from last year will miss out on the semis. I have already noted that Hammarby will be in trouble this year and this proved the case in spades when they lost 132 – 0 to a competent looking Troján side. Although they had 19 on their team sheet I´m not even sure they had a full team with them. They will now play Exiles a couple of times in the next two weeks which will almost certainly provide more heavy defeats.
As expected, the other Northern game was a much closer affair. Enköping were comfortable winners in the Sevens, but looked distinctly shakier without imports in the 15s. They now have Erikslund as a farmer club and started off with one such player along with another in the front row after half an hour. Also starting was another former Exile now living closer to Enköping. As none of them were quite good enough to play regularly for Exiles when Erikslund were their farmer club it is understandable that they might want to play higher league rugby with another club. This could of course cause problems when Div. 1 including Erikslund gets under way. Exiles lent Erikslund many players last season, we´ll see if Enköping have the strength in depth to do the same.
Exiles are slowly but surely getting their best team together but they have still a bit to go. Their forwards were pretty strong, however, and completely dominated the Enköping pack in the scrums and lineouts. This gave them an advantage which was translated into a 6 – 0 lead. Then Enköping struck with a grubber kick over the goalline; the Exiles´ fullback and winger left it to each other to touch down for a 22, but Hannes Nylén seized the opportunity to dive on the ball, convert and give the home team a 7 – 6 lead. Exiles came back strongly but Enköping just held out until Theo crashed through and got the ball out to Alexander Walsh who crossed unchallenged. He converted and Exiles went to the break leading 13 – 7.
In the second half Exiles continued their dominance up front but Enköping scored three penalties to win 16 – 13. The penalty count in the first 38” of the half was 14 – 0 to Enköping. With 2” to go it was Exiles who got 3 penalty kicks in a row and were attacking in a ruck a few metres from the Enköping line. But once again the referee struck, Enköping got a final penalty and kicked the ball away to end the game. Exiles were on the whole the better team, but the score-sheet showed differently. The referee had an indifferent game and in the second half often failed to show why the penalties were being awarded. Exiles´ captain spoke to him repeatedly after decisions but the pattern remained unchanged. You cannot win a tight game when the penalty count is 14 – 0 and I think it is time for the convenor of the referees to take a look at games such as this and to have a discussion with the referee in question.
In the South there were two easy wins and one close one. Spartacus and Pingvin ran up around 50 points away to beat Vänersborg and Malmö, but Lugi at home surprised Göteborg with a 19 – 16 win. I´ll suspend judgment on that one until a couple more rounds are played, but Göteborg are notorious for failing to get together away teams. A pointer in that direction is that they only had 17 players on their team-sheet.
No games in Div. 1 as Berserkers asked to postpone their game against Exiles Twos. Exiles´ first team will meet Hammarby this Friday evening. A bit more action next week as both the Ladies and Div. 1 get under way.
Those being bored to tears by the first two box-kick festivals provided by the Lions/Boks could have taken a look at the N.Z – Oz match for the Bledislow Cup at Eden Park yesterday morning. It was a wonderful open game with 4 tries apiece and a narrow win for the All Blacks. I counted one box-kick throughout and it was hardly the same game as that provided by the Lions/Boks.
Fortunately the Lions/Boks raised their game when the decisive match in the series was played. Both teams attempted attacking back-play and the Lions looked much sharper when Scottish flyhalf
Finn Russell got on the field. But a brilliant Kolbe try just kept the Boks ahead and the defeated Lions can head home into quarantine with at least SEK600.000:- each for a month´s work.