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With stalwart defense and strong forward play, Life University blanked Clemson, 51-0, in Marrieta, Ga Saturday. Paired with a victory over Navy last weekend, Life has now defeated Varsity Cup opponents two consecutive weeks.
The Running Eagles opened the scoring inside 10 minutes. After knocking on the door for the first several, Life scored off a short ruck to take a 7-0 lead. The home side would go on to add three tries in the corner, one off a maul and one at the halftime whistle, to round out the first half. Despite giving away numerous penalties at the breakdown, Life managed to jump out to a 36-0 halftime lead.
The Running Eagles committed a number of penalties at the breakdown, and it was a point of emphasis in the halftime chat with coach Tui Osborne.
“We were trying to go for the poach too much and we fixed that at halftime,” said Osborne. “We have some young guys who are just not used to that pace and discipline came in.”
For Clemson, the Tigers could not capitalize on the high penalty count and struggled to sustain possession for much of the first half. Clemson failed to put numbers in the rucks and saw some of its ball poached or heavily contested.
“Life took advantage of every opportunity to turn us over in the first half,” Clemson coach Justin Hickey told Rugby today. “It took us really the whole first half to get that sense of urgency, where maybe against other opponents we can get away with not really competing at our own breakdown.”
Clemson responded much better in the second stanza, and Life only managed to score two more tries before sending out a number of substitutes.
“It was encouraging that in the second half we increased our work rate and actually had an abundance of territory and possession,” said Hickey. However, Clemson missed two penalties and was never able to break through the Running Eagle defense. “Life’s defense is just outstanding, and it showed today that nothing was going to come easy."
Osborne was less complimentary of his team and still hopes to see an improvement in the coming weeks. “Our defensive line was a bit better this week compared to last week, but we always have to improve on connecting our tackles,” Osborne concluded.
On the offense side, Jake Anderson, who is back from injury, ran some solid lines today and is building his fitness back up as the season comes into the home stretch. Life also got solid performances from captain Harley Davidson and freshman flyhalf Duncan Van Schalkwyk.
“He is one of our younger guys that is excelling very quickly into the varsity squad,” Osborne said of Van Schalkwyk. “He will be a good guy to watch this season.”