There was a dash of anxiety for the Jungle Crows leading up to this final, missing stalwart and India International Mesu, along with the departure of two tough visitors Josh and Conleth and a whole new front row combination. Could the boys of the Jungle Crows stand up to the men of Kolkata’s Finest.
The filth of a monsoon morning led into a cool and pleasant afternoon at the CCFC Grounds as both teams buzzied themselves with preparations. At 4.30pm precisely Referee Guneet called the teams together to observe a minute’s silence, in memory of Santosh a Khelo Rugby boy of just 12 years who had died the day before following two days of fever. This was the second consecutive Saturday where the teams paid their respects to a lost member of the rugby family, with respects paid to Manoj a great rugby supporter and CCFC stalwart just the week before.
Out of the blocks like a pig seeing a cattle rod, a sublime crossfield kick from Crows No.10 Curt, with the outside of his boot ala Michelak (if you remember the semi v New Zealand in Cardiff you’ll understand this!) Pratap in his first outing as Centre chased through, picked up and grounded the ball. 5-0 to the Crows! And no kick was too much for Curt on this day, right hand touchline through the posts and 7-0 and not 4 minutes played.
Big hits had started from the off with both teams trying to show their dominance, Jaganth won all the prizes though and left some Police heads fuzzy!
But it was the Crime Busters who made the next move with a defensive lapse punished under the posts and with the conversion 7-7. The next ten minutes saw the match level out with the Crows generally under pressure from the heavier pack of the Police which eventually yielded a penalty 10-7 to the Cops.
Never down the Jungle Crows dug in and Pervez, nimble and tough on the wing suddenly had an opening and though he hesitated for a moment he gathered himself quickly enough to seize theopportunity and scored in the corner, Curt’s conversion a formality – 14-10. With the half coming to a close Curt stepped right to send the closing defender the wrong way and popped over a drop goal from his favoured left boot: 17-10 at half time.
And into the second half the Crows were ahead but struggling to control the might of the Police Scrum and with new lads on the field likely to make small but significant errors. The fight was on, with neither team ready to be sent down. Less than a minute gone though, Crows win a penalty and over it goes 20-10, some daylight. Three minutes gone, Crows backline combo Tudu and Tiger slice open the defence, Tudu try and of course the conversion 27-10. And then the sucker punch that left the opposition plodding to keep up, bouncing messy ball on the Police line and French import Sylvain is there to seal the deal (conversion attempt hits the post!!) 32-10. Crows in lock down, Police pile on the pressure but nothing doing….though perhaps a penalty try was luckily avoided as the Crows scrum came under terrible pressure on the line.
Final whistle…..Crows celebrate….and the Police were left to pack away the sweets and biryani they had brought to celebrate victory…..Fire on Babylon indeed!!