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Charlotte Rugby Club played host to a weekend of top collegiate rugby teams. Life bested a pair of service academies on consecutive days, while Navy and Air Force both beat Clemson. The medley was played out at Skillbeck Athletic Grounds.
On Saturday, Life dismantled a rusty Air Force side 74-0 while Navy pulled away from Clemson for a 36-12 victory. “It was Air Force’s first hit out. They are going to find their stride there after a couple of games,” said Life coach Scott Lawrence. “We just looked like we had a few more games under our belt.”
Despite the comfortable victory, Lawrence sees lots of places for improvement in his side. On Saturday, the Running Eagles had a number of handling errors and struggled in the open play area.
They had the opportunity to improve upon their performance on Sunday when they battled Navy. The Midshipmen, however, gave Life its toughest game of the year so far with the Running Eagles winning 29-18. Life jumped out to a quick start with a pair of tries. Alex Maughan took a quick tap penalty and dove over for the first score in the opening moments. Maciu Koroi added a try down the blindside and after a penalty the Running Eagles led 15-0.
“We put together some real continuity at the start of the game and jumped out 15-nil,” said Lawrence. A quarter in to the game, however, Life lost a player to a red card. Navy took advantage of the man advantage scoring a try in the corner. Life suspended the momentum, though, adding a penalty to extend the lead to 18-5.
“Navy put a lot of pressure on us. They are a very good team. They have a strong set piece, physical in defense and really work hard. They tilted the field back on us and stayed in our half for a while,” said Lawrence.
Navy added a score right before halftime to cut the lead to six points. Life did well, despite being down a man, getting a converted try from Cody Melphy to push the lead to 25-12. Once again, however, the Midshipmen struck back with a converted try to make it a one-score game. Solid Life defense and tactical play prevented Navy from garnering any more points. Life added a penalty to make it a two-score match and held on to win 28-19.
“We went into a territorial game, we just continued to kick it back into their half. Each time we got the ball we got the kick and chase on and tried to hold down for the last 20 minutes,” concluded Lawrence.
It was overall a great weekend of rugby. Air Force defeated Clemson 37-13, leaving the service academies with a 2-2 record for the weekend. With two victories, Life remains undefeated as it begins conference play in the coming weeks. For Life, this weekend was more than just a tune up for the D1A season. It was an opportunity to play to stories universities in the same weekend.
“What an opportunity to play two of the service academies in one weekend. That whole experience for our young men was fantastic. To be able to sing the national anthem with them and play against them, they are just class young men,” indicated Lawrence.