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Life and Arkansas State both claimed first blood in the Deep South with wins over Lindenwood and Davenport respectively. Although the Red Wolves are not participating in the Deep South conference anymore due to entry in the Varsity Cup, they still play a tough schedule against their former conference mates.
Sam Cowley opened the scoring against Lindenwood and after a penalty Harley Davidson extended the lead to 14-3. Davidson capitalized on a handling error by Lindenwood in its own 22, a theme that would plague the Lions all afternoon. The teams were well matched physically, however, Life dominated possession and territory throughout the match.
“Early on Lindenwood had a couple of misfires on their red zone exits. It gave us some opportunities we haven’t seen before,” Life coach Scott Lawrence told Rugby Today. “I think it was a bit of territory early in the game that gave us those opportunities.”
Life continued to punish Lindenwood mistakes in the second half with Cody Melphy taking in a loose ball for a score. It was the first of four second half tries for the sophomore inside center.
The Running Eagles continued to monopolize possession in the second half, putting phases together and creating space for Melphy. Melphy got his second of the match to increase the Life lead to 28-3 and followed it up with two late tries.
“He had a couple of tries that were really worked well,” Lawrence said of Melphy. “They were kind of one on one in space where we created the one on one. I thought it was a solid individual effort for him to score both.”
Life won the match 45-15.
Arkansas State ran rough shot over Davenport to the tune of a 54-0 thrashing. After getting off to a slow start in their first game of the season, the Red Wolves began firing on all cylinders.
“The first twenty to twenty five we kind of weathered the storm and the guys sort of got comfortable and got into the game a bit better. We started moving the ball around a bit better and working our game better than we did in the beginning,” said ASU coach Shaun Potgeiter.
The Red Wolves got out to a 29-0 lead at halftime and continued to blank the Davenport offense in the second half. Potgeiter praised the play of his team’s defensive effort.
“We dominated territory and whenever they did have the ball they couldn’t get any meters on us. I think our defense did very well throughout the game and helped us to score points,”
Although ASU lost All-American Michael Baska to transfer, the Red Wolves have gotten several key players back from injuries. Kirk Pretorius, who missed most of last season due to injury, came back late in the fall and earned man of the match for his efforts yesterday. Along with getting Robert Elan-Puttick back from an ACL injury, ASU is looking strong heading into the sprin.
“Great runs, a lot of impact tackles on defense. He had a great game,” Potgeiter said of Pretorius.