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South Carolina moved to 3-0 in SEC play after defeating Alabama 26-15 in Columbia, SC Saturday. The game did not kick off on time because the Alabama bus arrived late. The Crimson Tide seemed to feel the effects of a late bus arrival as they yielded two tries in the first 15 minutes.
“I think they were a little flat-footed coming off the bus,” South Carolina coach Mark Morris told Rugby Today.
The first score of the game came from the Gamecocks as they outflanked the Alabama defense for a try from a wing. The second came as the result of a penalty, with South Carolina using a rolling maul to drive over from 15 yards out.
Alabama settled into the game after 20 minutes and really used its forwards to make inroads against the South Carolina defense. “Their pack kind of decided they were going to take control of the game. They did a great job with offloading, playing a lot of wide play from the rucks,” Morris added.
Despite the strong start, South Carolina squandered several other scoring chances. Due to safety precautions, South Carolina shifted the dimensions and location of the field. One try went begging because a Gamecock ran through the back of the try zone before dotting down. A second try was lost in a more conventional way as the ball was knocked forward in a rolling maul at the five-meter line. A double move at the try line stopped a third attempt to add to the lead.
“It was a calamity of errors for us. We should have had another 20 points. We let them in the game and their forwards took control of the game at the end of the first half,” Morris said. Despite the sluggish start, Alabama scored twice before the break making it 14-12 at halftime.
South Carolina came out strong in the second half, taking the kickoff and scoring after a number of phases. The Gamecocks added two more tries and only yielded a penalty in the second half to earn a 26-15 victory. South Carolina strengthened its defense in the second half and made adjustments to control the strong Alabama pack
“I read the boys the riot act at halftime about our tackling and controlling their forward play," said Morris, "And after we made the adjustments we did a lot better job with shutting them down.”