The Crusaders began their 2022 campaign with a long trip to Derry for a meeting with the Donegal Derry Vipers. It was a big occasion for the Vipers as it was their first home game following their recently announced partnership to introduce the City of Derry Rugby Club as their new home.
The Vipers were fired up and wanted to make a statement and cement their new home as a fortress. However, their defence caused constant problems for the Crusaders offence while their rushing attack was a focal point of their gameplan. 2 rushing touchdowns and a field goal in the opening half put the Vipers in a firm position with a 17-0 lead at the break.
Shortly before the break, the Crusaders lost one of their rising stars on defence in Cormac Butler. With a suspected broken wrist, Cormac could not return for the remainder of the game. However, Cormac’s loss appeared to motivate the Crusaders defence as they forced a fumble on the Vipers opening drive. Quarterback Jordan Farrell found WR Rob Brown open from the resulting turnover, who raced down the sideline only to step out of bounds at the 2. Despite a solid goal-line defence from the Vipers, the Crusaders managed to get on the scoreboard through Luke Carey, who found a gap through the middle.
There was much hope of a famous Crusaders comeback, but momentum was quickly squashed as the Vipers returned the kick-off for significant yards and managed to reach the end zone on the opening play of the drive. The Vipers found the endzone again shortly after, with all of their touchdowns coming on the ground.
The defence must be commended for their resilience throughout the game. They forced the Vipers to 5 turnovers with three fumbles and two interceptions courtesy of Pijus Jasaitis and Conor Malone. The Dooley brothers also managed to claim a sack each during the game.
The offence managed to get a late touchdown with Jordan Farrell finding Rob Brown for a 25-yard touchdown in the corner. Rob Brown had an excellent day with eight receptions for 172 yards and a touchdown.
Congratulations to the Vipers and we look forward to facing you again later in the season. The Crusaders now focus on getting back on track in their opening home fixture against the 1-1 UL Vikings on the 10th April at 2pm in Newbridge College.
1. QB Jordan Farrell
3. DB Dominik Pindi
4. LB Erik Louviere
70. OL Mark Carey
Offensive MVP: Rob Brown
Defensive MVP: Craig Dooley
Overall MVP: Karl Bracken