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At the Charlotte Rugby Complex Saturday, Clemson defeated Maryland 39-10 to take home the Atlantic Coast Rugby League title. Clemson got on the board after 15 phases with a try from the local prop Max Simons.
“He kind of had a little bit of extra umph behind him, and he played really well,” Clemson head coach Justin Hickey told Rugby Today.
Simons is one of the usual suspects for Clemson. Along with Jason Damm and Jimmy Rippert, the Clemson pack has been wearing out teams all season. Jimmy Rippert leads the Tigers with his incredible work rate, while Damm is a strong ball carrier from the No. 8 position.
Clemson added to its lead with two more tries to take a 17-0 advantage. “We started out really well, “ Clemson coach Justin Hickey told Rugby Today. “We put them under some pretty good pressure with good kicks and counter attack play. We did a really good job of retaining possession and got settled into our attacking structure right away.”
Maryland battled its way back into the game with a try from a quick tap penalty. A few minutes later a penalty goal made the game 17-10. With five minutes remaining in the first half, Clemson had a player sent off with a yellow card. “Credit to Maryland for really sticking around and not going away. Maybe after that third try our guys kind of exhaled a little bit and they got stuck into us,” Hickey said.
Clemson was able to reestablish control at the end of the first half and carried momentum into the second half. “It was a good combination of real strong forward play and good attack play and counter attack play from our backs,” added Hickey. 'I think they just were not really able to catch up in the second half.”
The Tigers blanked the Terps in the second half with some strong defense. The center pairing of Rion Tapp and Dylan Goulding played tremendous defense on the afternoon.
“They have been very solid for us all year, very consistent and I think they were the difference,” added Hickey. “It is not secret that Matias Cima and the midfield for Maryland is where a lot of their attack comes. That is where their strength lies and those guys did a good job really closing down the midfield.”’
Clemson added two converted tries, an unconverted try and a penalty in the second half in route to a 39-10 victory. Clemson awaits the winner of the Southeastern conference playoffs set to take place next week. Maryland will take on the SCRC runner up. Both games will take place at the American Collegiate Rugby Championship bowl series Nov. 21.