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In Mid-South action, Life moved to 3-0 with a win over Davenport while Arkansas State and Lindenwood played to a 17-17 draw. The Running Eagles move into a commanding position atop the standings with the rest of the field battling it out for second place at the moment.
Lindenwood had a bit of a whirlwind weekend. The Lions dismantled the field at the Las Vegas Invitational to earn a berth to the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship in June. The Missouri school packed up its bags Saturday afternoon and came home to play Arkansas State on in 15s on Sunday. Lindenwood stated a handful of players from the weekend, but a majority of the roster remained at home to prepare for the ASU game.
“We seemed off balance the whole game. We had a little bit of a different week with the sevens and that showed,” said Lindenwood coach Josh Macy.
Arkansas State jumped out on Lindenwood early, ultimately taking a 17-12 lead late into the game. The lead might had been bigger if not for a pair of scores that were called back by the referee. Tanner Pope managed to score a pair of tries and was a menace across the field all afternoon.
“He had a great game,” ASU coach Shaun Potgeiter said of Pope. “Pope was all over the field making tackles. He was in there working the scrum and was running hard lines.”
The Lions ultimately scored in the 65 minute to tie but nobody was able to break through for the remainder of the game.
Both teams had their complaints about officiating but in the end it came down to execution. Neither team was able to make a play to propel themselves forward in the final minutes.
“We had some opportunities to win late but just didn’t cross the line. Kudos to Arkansas State for remaining disciplined and not giving a penalty,” Macy added.
“The game was physical as we expected. There were a few guys that knew each other playing against each other. I think some of our guys got lost in the moment. I think our composure was not as good as we wanted it to be but we will move forward,” Potgeiter added.
In the other conference matchup, Life defeated a feisty Davenport side 27-3. The Panthers gave Life some trouble in the first half despite having limited possession. The Michigan side attempted to use the kicking game to pin Life deep in its own territory and managed to have some success in the first half.
“Davenport really turned us around in the first half really well,” said Life coach Scott Lawrence. “I thought they were really accurate in their kicking game and found some space on us.”
Despite the effort from Davenport, Life struck in the first ten minutes via Harley Wheeler. It was the first of two on the day for Wheeler, as he got the last of the day for the Running Eagles as well. Life added a penalty with 15 minutes remaining in the first half and scored a try with less than a minute to play to take a 15-0 lead. Davenport earned a penalty as the half expired to cut into the Life lead at the break.
The Running Eagles scored the only points of the second. Along with Wheeler’s second, Alex McDonald found the try zone to complete the 27-3 win.
“We put together some long phases of possession. We had 66 percent possession during the game so our defense did not really have to face any sustained pressure.”
Next week Arkansas State will take on Clemson while Lindenwood will face off with Davenport.