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“We were actually missing a few A-side players – lots of weddings this past weekend,” said Exiles hooker Owen Lentz. “We knew Pittsburgh has got a good squad. They have an excellent front row and we struggled with the new cadence for the scrum early on.”

But the Exiles did well in turning the ball over in the tackle, and kept battling.

“The problem for us was we gifted them five points right before halftime, and when I say gifted, if there’s anything like an own goal in rugby, that was it,” said Lentz.

The Exiles turned the ball over right near their tryline, but instead of consolidating possession and kicking the ball out, they tried to mount a counter, and a quick pass settled right into Pittsburgh hands.

Later in the second half, another gift – a grubber into in-goal was kicked dead – except the wide pitch at Founders Field can be unforgiving and the ball didn't make the sideline. Try Pittsburgh.

“They were very good and chipping the ball over our defense,” said Lentz. “But late in the game we started to get going.”

Down 20-10 the Exiles mounted a nice attack that flowed through the hands and resulted in a try in the corner. At the same time, referee John Bridges saw Pittsburgh prop Troy Epps, who up until that point had been having an excellent game, hit an Exiles player late and without wrapping.

Epps got a red card for his pains, and the Exiles kept coming.

“We had the momentum already, and then we just got another try in,” said Lentz.

It was a huge result, 22-20 for Maryland. Winning on the road in MARFU is a tough proposition, and beating a team in contention is even tougher. This is a major step for Maryland.

All, however, is not lost for Pittsburgh. They got a bonus point for a close loss and still sit in 2nd with a 3-1 record.

Head Coach Kaili Finau said his team has had to work on defense, which he thought was sloppy, and rucking, which was a bit out of control.

“If we have these [two things] in control, I think we would be in better position,” he said.

Finau told his players before the Exiles match that every game must be treated like a playoff game.

That is even more true now.

“Their willingness to finish the game and their will to win that make me and my assistants proud to be their coaches,” he added.