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After four weeks of play in the DI Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Gorge once again proved it is the best team in the DI Mid-Atlantic with a 69-7 stomping of the second place team, the Pittsburgh Harlequins. The Schuylkill River Exiles earned an easy second win of the season over Wilmington, 79-3, and Baltimore-Chesapeake picked up its first win against the Potomac Exiles, 22-14.
At Founder’s Field in Pittsburgh, Pa., Rocky Gorge showcased why it should be feared in the Mid-Atlantic. Starting from the first touch of the ball, Gorge had a realistic chance to score on every possession. Even with talented flyhalf Ben Cima with the USA Selects, the backs took over scoring seven of the team’s ten tries.
“The first half went as well as it could,” Gorge head coach Nick DiMichele said. “Our backs were phenomenal, finding space hitting gaps and exploiting overloads. They fed off the aggression and physicality from the forwards. The backs were always in support making the right decisions. It was incredible to watch.”
Ethan Reese, Tony Ayigah, Chris Kunkel (2), Brady Smith, Nick Kuhl (2), Matias Cima (2), and Josh Brown each scored tries in the win with Kuhl and Cima sharing the kicking duties. Wing Robbie Roche scored Pittsburgh’s lone try in the corner following a penalty in the first half.
“It was a rough game and they came ready to play,” Pittsburgh captain Luke Titus said. “Not taking anything away from them, those guys are good team. It didn’t look like we were ready to compete with them. We weren’t at the same level as them today. They were really good at offloading and that’s what really killed us. They got an offload away almost every time and then they went in.”
When asked what the win told him about his club, DiMichele answered, “We are just building our brand of playing good rugby. Gorge has got a lot of selfless guys who are more concerned with improving the level of play rather than padding stats. That philosophy just brings a lot of cohesiveness and unity within our club.”
At full health and strength for the first time this season, Schuylkill River exploited the match against Wilmington to get back on the right foot following last Saturday’s loss. With Bruce Dolan and Gareth Jones back in the centers, defense was key as the Exiles crushed their opponent, 79-3. Wilmington continued to struggle ever since being promoted to DI.
“Defense was obviously a factor as we made over 80 tackles and didn't miss very many,” Schuylkill head coach Bill Jalbert said. “We finally got our attack shape working and got a huge boost from our centers, who played together for the first time.”
Schuylkill Man of the Match Kevin Wagner put on a clinic with a hat trick on the wing and was a tackling machine on the edge. Dan Deal and Bruce Dolan each scored a pair of tries and William Doherty, Ben Janssen, Ryan McHugh, David Jones, and Gareth Jones each found the endzone in the contest.
After being down 14-5 at halftime, Baltimore-Chesapeake refocused and came back to win 22-14 on the road against the Potomac Exiles. “The difference between the first half and the second half was that we were more disciplined and we stuck to our system,” BC captain Tyler Barberi stated. “We kept pounding the ball and possession was big because of the rain.”
Inside center John Drury scored for BC in the first half, but it wasn’t until the second half when the Brumbies excelled. Wing Martin Hnizda scored to start the second frame and 17-year-old Gannon Conrad, fresh off taking his SATs earlier in the day, scored the game-winner. Flyhalf Eric Sweeney was two for three on conversions and connected on a penalty.
Reflecting on how the first three games have played out, Barberi remarked, “In the first two games, our pack was not where it should have been. The pack was soft and it’s usually our strong point. In this game, we dominated in the pack and if we want to beat Norfolk next weekend, we have to be strong in the forwards. Our backs have improved tremendously and they are going to come in hard and firing.”