Match Report Karlstad V Vänersborg

Karlstad make it 2 wins from 2 at home.


Karlstad made it two wins from two at home this season with a hard fought 18-10 victory over Vänersborg on Thursday.


The Karlstad team named on Wednesday evening was not the same team that took the pitch on Thursday due to two very late withdrawals during the warm up. A quick reshuffle in the pack saw Anthony De Kock come off the bench to start at hooker and Bjorn move to the second row alongside Ragge who had missed the last game due to work. There was also a welcome return for the ever reliable Lars-Olof “Lolla” Leander in the backrow.  In the backs Sven Isaksson came off the bench to replace the injuried Robin on the wing with Mikael Blom moving from the backrow to full back.


It was a beautiful day in Orrholmen with a strong wind and Vänersborg played with the wind on their backs in the first half. The game kicked off and Vänersborg went to work using their forwards to hit up the ball but Karlstads defence held firm. Within two minutes, Berry Grande made a tackle and ripped the ball from the opposition and made a 50m dash to the line, breaking numerous tackles on route to the Karlstad opening try! It was a superb individual effort. The conversion was  successful by Eric Ceder.


The game continued and Vänersborg looked to use their speedy, young backs to effect but the Karlstad backline was strong in defence, led by good defence from Marcus Nyren and Anton Johansson.  Chris McIlgrew continued to grow into his role at fly half in leading both attack and defensive line and his kicking from hand was sound.


This was the referee’s first senior game of rugby and whilst his knowledge of the laws were, for the most part sound, he appeared nervous in his first outing, and a little over eager to blow his whistle throughout the game. It was a shock to all when he gave a yellow card to flanker Lolla which was apparently for a rucking incident. Video replays of the incident remain inconclusive. Nevertheless Karlstad were down to 14 men for 10 minutes.


Vänersborg had two strong lineout jumpers who caused problems for Karlstad all day and this was another game where Karlstad’s usually strong set piece was in ruins. Despite the set piece problems, Karlstad were strong in the rucks and defence for the most part but the continued Vänersborg pressure eventually gave way and they broke through for a try. The conversion was missed to make the score 7-5 at half time.


Karlstad switched sides for the second half and now had the wind to their backs, something they hoped to use to their advantage and this they did with Ceder, McIlgrew and Nyren pinning Vänersborg back into their own 22. The Karlstad forwards also picked up their game, looking to pick and go and have quick tap penalties when the opportunity arose as the lineout and scrum wasn’t functioning.


Another Karlstad try followed. A good drive by captain Andy Martin gave quick ball to the backs, and with a 3 on 1 overlap, second row Mattias “Ragge” Karlsson almost bottled a certain try, but the ball still made it wide to vice captain Mikael Blom to run in for Karlstad’s second try after a good pass by scrum half Ceder. The conversion was successful by Eric Ceder.


Two more penalties from Eric Ceder kept Karlstad in a commanding position, but Vänersborg would have one final say when their captain made a strong run through the Karlstad defence to give Vänersborg their second score of the game. Conversion was missed.


The final 10 minutes saw Vänersborg continue to pass the ball wide in vain hope one of their speedsters would get the final breakthrough, but it was to no avail and some final pass knock ons and good Karlstad defence despite tired legs saw out the game for the win!


Final score Karlstad 18 – Vänersborg 10.


In reflection Karlstad will be pleased with the win, and there was a definite improvement from the Göteborg game the previous week, but the players know they are still not playing to their full potential. The team is a work in progress and will continue to grow with each game.


Special mentions go to Karlstads Man of the Match Eric Ceder, who played despite a late fitness test on his injured knee, and his counter ruck late in the game stole the ball for Karlstad helping see out the win. Berry Grande was his usual hard working self around the park and all of the backline must take credit for solid defence throughout the game as Vänersborg looked to get the ball wide at every opportunity.


As always a thank you to the ref who for a first senior game did pretty well and sometimes its good to remember the following, No refs, No games. Also a customary thanks to those who work tirelessly off the pitch on game day, taking the gate, making sure the place is set up and looking well, ensuring the cafe is handled and making sure the seniors food is served on time. This organisation is what sets us above other sports at this level, so thanks to Kev, the Durand siblings Alex and Julia and to Björns mom who did a wonderful job getting the food finished and sharing café duties


Karlstads next fixture is the away trip to Vänersborg for the last away match of the regular season, hoping to get at least one away victory before the playoffs after summer.

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