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The Austin Huns ended a three-match skid over the weekend, beating Houston Athletic Rugby Club 40-27. Both the Huns and HARC went into Saturday’s match looking for a much-needed win. Both had come off of losses the previous week and suffered consecutive defeats as well. The Huns took the initiative in the early going of the match but allowed HARC to remain competitive in the closing minutes. Despite the inconsistent play, the Huns managed to pull out a win.
“We led 35-14 at half and 21-7 after the first 20 minutes but we lost our focus a bit as the game wore on,” said Kirk Tate, head coach of the Huns. “We scored three converted tries in the space of 15 minutes. That lead held up even though we didn't play well in the second half.”
The Huns put HARC under constant pressure with the ball in hand. Runners from the Huns executed the offensive structure and generated pressure, which led to opportunities to put points on the board. The pressure paid off a number of times deep in enemy territory. According to Tate, both of his locks, Brian and Craig Welborn, scored from pick-and-go charges when HARC’s heels were on the goal line. A third came from a kick that was charged down following a five-meter scrum. The Huns’ no. eight, Kyle Breytenbach, added two tries to his team’s tally, while flyhalf Thierry Daupin and wing Tuwi Rokodulul each got five-pointers. Daupin was also effective from the tee, successfully converting five out of six tries.
The reserves also made a positive impact on the match for the Huns. One of the few bright spots for the Huns’ second half was the performances by Sean McFadden and Colin Bugge and Andrew Heller and Dylan Stevenson. McFadden and Bugge came in as fresh legs on the flanks, while Heller and Stevenson came in at outside center and wing, respectively.
The Huns didn’t have an easy time putting the match away, though. According to Tate, his players had some lapses in concentration and inconsistency on the defensive side of the ball. This allowed HARC to take advantage and score.
“We had three let-downs where we gave up a try only a couple of minutes after scoring,” he said. “The biggest problem defensively was not maintaining our focus and intensity for the whole 80 minutes. To HARC’s credit, they had some slippery backs.”
Despite the pressure from HARC and a resilient resurgence, the Huns had created a large enough lead to escape with a win – a fact that is not lost on Tate. Getting the win was crucial but the quality of the performance left much to be desired.
“We needed this one badly, so it feels good in that respect, but our performance will have to be better if we expect to beat the Harlequins and New Orleans,” he said. “We need to work on our mental focus and preparation. We played very well in spots, but it takes 80 minutes of consistent intensity to compete with the best.”
Next weekend, the Huns host the Harlequins before taking on New Orleans in consecutive weekends.