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The Schuylkill River Exiles (2-2) brought their style of rugby south to face the undefeated Baltimore-Chesapeake Brumbies (3-0) in this matchup of DI Mid-Atlantic foes. BC had a narrow victory over Raleigh to start the season, followed by a forfeit over Pittsburgh and a blowout against NOVA.
On the other side, the Exiles won their first two games of the season versus Pittsburgh and NOVA, however, have lost two straight against Raleigh and the Potomac Exiles. This was BC’s chance to show its mettle against a quality club and Schuylkill’s opportunity to get back in the win column. The first half featured a field-position battle, and then in the second half, the Brumbies exerted control through their physical play to win 41-20.
“With about 15 minutes to go in the first, we exerted a little more pressure, and they ended up with those two cards because they were under pressure," said Brumbies coach Steve Elliott. "In the second half, we continued that pressure and things opened up.”
The first 20 minutes of the match were played between the 22s, as both teams felt each other out. At the 19th minute, BC lock Ryan Burns was yellow carded for retaliation right in front of the posts from 10 meters out. Schuylkill outside center Bruce Dolan made the penalty kick for the 3-0 lead. Five minutes later, BC evened the score with its own penalty kick by flyhalf Pat Foley. It would be the start of a big day for the Brumbies flyhalf.
For the next 10 minutes, the teams fought for an advantage, kicking back and forth looking for their opponent’s weakness. At the 38th minute, after a Exiles’ offside penalty, Foley lined up a kick from about 28 meters away. It was true, and BC took the slim three-point lead.
The end of the half set off a flurry of action. Schuylkill inside center David Jones was yellow carded for repeated infringements, followed a few minutes later by another Schuylkill yellow card on Dolan. After the second card, Foley finally ended the half with his third penalty kick for a 9-3 advantage.
After the cards at the end of the first half, BC began the period with a two-man advantage; however, it was Schuylkill that struck first to pull within one point of the lead. Following a BC penalty, there was a missed tackle and then an offload to scrumhalf Pat Boyle for the try.
BC finally capitalized on the man advantage in the 45th minute when inside center John Drury broke off a long run and offloaded to outside center Eric Noonan. The ball was moved across the field in three rucks where scrumhalf Colby Buss finished with a try near the sideline. The conversion by Foley was good, and BC increased the lead to 16-8.
Schuylkill was back to full strength by the 50th minute, which didn’t help three minutes later when the Exiles had a scrum just outside their own five meter line. The Brumbies’ forward pack overpowered its opponent and forced the Exiles back into the try zone, where the ball popped out from the back of the scrum. Buss jumped on it for the try, and Foley extended the lead to 23-8 with the conversion.
Schuylkill got back on the board following a BC turnover, where the Exiles got the ball out wide quickly to Dolan, who ran around the corner for a try in the 57th minute. Fullback James Rosato split the uprights to make the score 23-15. BC took advantage of two more Exiles penalties for kicks in the 64th and 68th minutes to lengthen the lead to 29-15.
The last 10 minutes of the half saw a series of three tries. Schuylkill scored its final try when flanker Ian Eggleston scored off an overload along the sideline following a penalty. BC scored the last two tries of the match to close out the game. After a turnover within Schuylkill’s 22, Foley recovered the loose ball and broke three tackles for the try. Lastly, with a minute left in the game, wing Antony Wamwea scored following an offload from Noonan after he broke the Exiles’ line. Foley made his fourth conversion for his 24th point of the match and BC remained undefeated with the 41-20 win.
“Great individual effort, but not a whole lot of team effort," said Schuylkill coach Bill Jalbert. "The game did not go well from our perspective. I thought we made Baltimore look really good. We made a lot of poor decisions on the pitch. The funny part is that we fixed a lot of our issues from the previous week. Everything else seemed to go by the wayside. A lot of bad decisions and not taking care of the ball when we needed to."
“I thought it went well. We stuck with our patterns, and over time, the patterns created the openings we hoped to find," said Elliott. "Schuylkill moved the ball around and at the same time had the capacity to keep it tight around the base unlike most teams. Most teams can do one or the other, those guys can do both so they are really difficult to defend. They can pick and go around the base, strike through the mid-field or just tap and go wide. It’s very difficult to handle.”
On what to expect for next week’s home game versus the undefeated Potomac Exiles for the division lead, Coach Elliot said, “A little bit more than we had today. It will be a tough hard match, very physical. There will be some feeling out, seeing who’s got what. Then hopefully, our patterns will create the spaces later in the game we hope that they create.”