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Four conferences were in action on a loaded day of DI Club rugby. In the ARP, Old Blue stormed past Mystic River and Glendale defeated NYAC in friendly in Colorado. It was Rocky Gorge, Pittsburgh, and Schuylkill River in the winners’ column in the Mid-Atlantic, while Metropolis, the Chicago Lions, the Chicago Griffins, and Columbus got the wins in the Midwest. Last but not least, ORSU took down the Portland Pigs in the Pacific Northwest and Valley Kangaroos defeated the Tacoma Nomads.
A frustrated and humbled Old Blue side coming off a loss to Oxford was far too much for Mystic River to handle. Old Blue rang up 97 points in front of the home fans in New York, N.Y. showing great pace and precision through the entire 80 minutes.
Wing Rich Kirkland started things off with a try two minutes in followed by fullback Keenan Jacobs, scrummy Nate Augspurger, and wing Kyle Granby. Mystic answered at 24’, but the 26-7 deficit was as close as the visitors would get.
Augspurger scored his second, followed by wing Gavan D’Amore-Morrison, Jacobs with three in a row, and center Neil Thorman made it 66-7 at the half. Finishing up the scoring in the second half for Old Blue was Granby, #8 Dylan Fawsitt, hooker Michael Brown, Thorman, and D’amore-Morrison, with Thorman adding eleven conversions.
“[The loss to Oxford] gave us a lot of pause for reflection and pause for thought," Old Blue coach Dom Wareing said. "So we had a fantastic training week. We really pushed the tempo in practice to try to make sure we could play a tempo nobody could live with, so that’s what we wanted to implement against Mystic. We managed to get our depth, our width, our accuracy of the pass, our decoy runners, and our support lines much sharper than the week before. I honestly think it didn’t matter who was against us today; we were on point.”
Next up for Old Blue will be a highly-anticipated match with the Glendale Merlins. “It’s fantastic that we’ve got a couple of big wins against our rivals here in the northeast," Wareing stated. "But now moving forward into this next week, we’re excited to play what we feel is probably the best team in the country, a team that’s almost a professional outfit. We’re looking to see how we fair against them and we’re looking forward to that challenge.”
The Glendale Merlins will be waiting for Old Blue, but in the meantime, enjoyed a big 64-10 win over NYAC at Infinity Park in Glendale, Co. After a feeling out period for both sides, Glendale struck first with a Will Magie penalty kick 12 minutes in. Then it was time for some Merlins magic with four straight tries before NYAC's Doug Ebanks could respond just before the half to make it 31-5 at the break. Ben Landry, Seth Haliman, John Quill, and Harley Davidson gave the Merlins the lead in the first half with tries.
The second half was more of the same with three unanswered tries by Peter Dahl, Davidson, and Grigor Kerdikoshvili to open the period. NYAC finally broke the try parade with a Seamus Kelly score at 67', but Glendale continued its onslaught soon after. Glendale's Zach Fenoglio and Mike Kruse put in two more tries before it was all said and done to make the final score 64-10.
On the road away from the friendly confines of Founders Field, the Pittsburgh Harlequins came away with the back-and-forth 33-24 win over the Potomac Exiles in Bethesda, Md. Pittsburgh struck first with some sustained phase play and a try from prop Julian Santana followed by a second score from big lock Mitch DePellegrini. Trailing 12-0, Potomac answered with wing Tyler Blaser finding space and the try zone.
Potomac seized momentum in the second half with back-to-back tries from flyhalf Will Taylor and center Kenny Rothmann, as well as a penalty kick from fullback Matt Quigley to go up 24-12. However, Pittsburgh regrouped and fought back with a try from #8 Viliami Siali after a nice break and offload from prop Zack Jessel. Then it was center Greg Genovese who found paydirt and the conversion gave the lead back to the ‘Quins, 26-24. With Potomac driving and no time left, wing Zack Schell intercepted a pass and took it all the way to the house to seal the win, 33-24.
“In the past, down twelve and with a mate in the sin bin, we may have allowed doubt to creep in,” Pittsburgh captain and flanker Mike Gorell said. “But the boys refused to fold, and I couldn't be more proud of the determination and grit they showed. We know every game matters in this league, and we didn't want to spend the five-hour ride home feeling like we let one slip away. Once we dotted one down to start the comeback, you could feel the momentum shift and we rode that wave to the final whistle.”
In Baltimore, Md., Schuylkill River scored twice in the final ten minutes to beat Baltimore-Chesapeake, 30-27, after two narrow losses to open the season. Flyhalf Brian Keown put Schuylkill on top with an early penalty kick, then BC answered with a converted try at 10’. Schuylkill then went on a 14-0 run with Keown converting tries from prop Ricky Schneider and flanker Ryan McHugh. A penalty narrowed the gap for BC to 17-10, Keown answered, then BC hit another to make it 20-13 Schuylkill at the break.
BC came out firing in the second and tied it up with a converted try eight minutes in, then took the 27-20 lead at 65’. Just as it had the last two weeks, Schuylkill River was staring at a single possession deficit in the game’s final stand. This time, the Exiles completed the comeback. McHugh’s second try brought it to 27-25, then it was wing Roman Lowery with the game-winner at 75’ to seal the 30-27 victory.
“We had two tight games previously, so we were able to play within that pressure when the time came for it, and we were able to pull through this time,” Schuylkill coach Owen Jones said. “We were up, we were down, then we got those last two tries in the last ten minutes of the game. It really was the players [that made the difference]. The first two weeks they were getting comfortable in the kind of structure that we want them to play. But this week they really found the rhythm and found each other and we were able to be a better, more cohesive unit.”
In Columbia, Md., the champions of DI and DII in the Mid-Atlantic renewed an old rivalry as Rocky Gorge clashed with the Washington Irish. When the final whistle blew, the experience and skill of Gorge beat out the youth and exuberance of the Irish to win 44-26.
Gorge took the early lead with a Nick Kuhl penalty kick and tries from Matias Cima and Will Miller. The Irish's Jager Hill answered at 21’ to make it 15-7, but outside center Eric Tack punched one in right before halftime to give the home team the 22-7 lead at the break.
Prop Tony Ayigah extended the lead with a try six minutes into the second half, but Irish fought back with a converted Mike Fletcher try to make it 27-14. Cima notched his second at 52’ and reserve Kevin Jackson’s spike try at 60’ made it 39-14 to pretty much end this one in Gorge’s favor. Irish fought back with two tries in the final 12 minutes, but the home team tacked on another for good measure.
It was once again the Rocky Gorge reserves that provided the leg up. “We’ve always put a huge emphasis on a strong bench," Gorge coach Nick DiMichele explained. "Our 16-23 is what sets us apart. Kevin Jackson was our man of the match; he played thirty minutes and had a huge impact. Irish was quick off the line and a very physical team. We just kept our composure and maintained possession for most of the game. We did a good job putting phases together to wear them down but didn’t exploit the overloads when the opportunity was there. Plenty of work to do and we’ll need to execute on the road the next two weeks.
It took a comeback, but Columbus RFC earned the tight 33-31 home win versus Palmer in Columbus, Ohio. Palmer took the early 7-0 lead and Tevita Maitavuki responded to notch Columbus’ first try. Palmer hit a penalty kick and the 10-5 score held until halftime.
Palmer went up 17-5, then eight-man Riekert Hattingh answered and Taylor Howden converted to make it 17-12. Palmer made it 24-12, then Columbus went on a run with tries from Hattingh and wing Nick Trausch, both converted by Howden to give the home team its first lead of the match, 26-24.
Flanker Osama Shayeb put the score back in Palmer’s favor, and fullback David Jerson’s conversion made it 31-26 with nine minutes left to play. Maitavuki notched the game-tying try at 75’, and Howden’s boot was good on the critical conversion to give Columbus the 33-31 victory.
In Chicago, Ill., the Lions shook off an early deficit to defeat the Cincinnati Wolfhounds, 36-21. Cincinnati went into halftime up 11-5, but the Lions regrouped and took control from there. Wing Dan Coci scored just three minutes into the second stand, then inside center Spencer Cameron notched his second try of the day giving Chicago a 17-11 lead it would not relinquish.
A penalty try at 50’ extended the Lions' advantage to 24-11, however, Cincinnati answered with a penalty kick to make it 24-14. The Lions pulled away with Cameron finishing his hat trick at 54’ and the Deck conversion made it 31-14. Kevin Lydon notched the Lions’ final score. Cincinnati fought to the end with a try in the final minute to make the game’s final margin 38-21.
“We created opportunities in the first half, but unforced errors killed us,” Chicago coach Dave Clancy said. “Regrouping and identifying what we were going to adapt to their defensive style was key at the half, coupled with some better skill execution to finish the chances they created.”
Over in Metropolis, Minn., Metropolis RFC continued its undefeated run with a 30-19 home win over the Kansas City Blues. Flyhalf Peceli Rinakama struck first three minutes in, then the Blues answered three minutes later. Flanker Martin Broberg put Metro back on top, fullback Bryan Ptomey converted, and the defenses stood up as the 12-5 Metro lead held for the next 26 minutes. Eightman Pita Naruma extended the home team’s lead at 34’, and the teams went into the break with Metropolis up 17-5.
Reserve wing Sean Kelly then made it 22-5 at 51’ and the Metropolis bench came up big again with another try from the reserves, this one courtesy of Ryan Gilligan. The Blues scored three straight tries to make it interesting, but the damage was pretty much done. Ptomey tacked on a penalty kick for good measure with three minutes left to make the game’s final score 30-19.
“We played well in spurts, but KC was also very strong,” said Metropolis coach Rob Holder. “I think we had a lot of field position in the end of the first half that wore down Kansas City. Having them play out of their own end was probably the key. Then in the second half we had a lot of fresh legs.”
In Milwaukee, Wis., the Chicago Griffins secured its first win of the season, 22-19, over the Barbarians. Milwaukee jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but the Griffins battled back and took control from there.
Flanker Matt Najor punched in the visitors’ first try at 17’, then was followed up by outside center Brendan Brown at 25’. The score held and the teams went to halftime with Milwaukee up 14-10. Flyhalf Andrew Suniula scored, then converted his own try to give the Griffins its first lead seven minutes into the second half. Milwaukee took the lead back, 19-17, at 54’, but the Griffins would not be denied. At 68’, wing Jeff Hain put Chicago up for good, as the 22-19 lead held for the final 12 minutes.
“We didn’t play particularly great, but we did enough to secure the win,” Suniula said. “We’ve been working hard on our defense over the last few weeks as we’ve leaked away too many points in this competition to date. A bit of pride went into our work this week, which is particularly the most pleasing part more so than the win.”
Oregon Rugby Sports Union went into Portland, Ore. and came away with a 27-13 win over the Pigs. Portland jumped out to an 8-0 lead, but ORSU answered with three straight tries and a penalty kick to go up 20-8 by the 50-minute mark. After a 15-minute stalemate, ORSU scored again with ten minutes left to sew the game up. The Pigs notched a try two minutes later, but ORSU had the victory firmly in hand, 27-13.
The Valley Kangaroos defeated the Tacoma Nomads 36-19 in SeaTac, Wash. and the Snake River versus Eastside Tsunami match was postponed to November 11th.