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Lindenwood scored its first-ever win in DI-A play, beating Davenport 27-16 Saturday in St. Charles, Mo. The Lions led 27-6 at one point, and a couple of late tries flattered the score line in DU’s favor.
The Panthers, for the second week in a row, displayed a really impressive scrum, pushing the Lions around for much of the day as they had Arkansas State the week prior.
“They were a dominant scrum, and I think that’s a testament to Kruger [Van Biljon] and what he’s done,” said Lindenwood coach JD Stephenson. “That scrum was unreal, and they really had us working. We actually subbed some players trying to work out what’s the best way to fix it. They really were a force.”
Lindenwood opened scoring with a counterattack try 12 minutes in. Davenport was moving the ball, but the Lions forced a turnover, got the ball out wide, and outside center Sione Fangahuiha crossed over for the score. Unconverted, the Lions led 5-0.
The center combination of Fangahuiha and James Poli proved tough for Davenport to deal.
“The only reason why we were so lucky and so fortunate was our midfield played really, really well,” said Stephenson. “Our centers were kind of a real force to be reckoned with, and we just kind of moved the ball.”
Davenport then scored back-to-back penalties to go up 6-5 – the Panthers’ only lead of the game. Lindenwood responded with a pair of tries to close out the half up 17-6. The latter of the two was an impressive play by flanker Tama Paogofie-Buyten. Off a lineout about 35 meters from pay dirt, he rumbled through the Davenport defense and dragged tacklers into the try zone.
Lindenwood No. 8 Sebastian Kalm opened the second half with a try off a handy individual effort himself, and fullback Lungi Tshuma slotted a penalty to cap of LU’s scoring. Davenport ran in tries in the 69th minute and at the death.
The win, Lindenwood’s first in the Mid-South conference – the toughest league in American college rugby – is something to be celebrated, but not too much, says Stephenson.
“The guys are ecstatic with the win. They’ve been putting in a lot of hard work, and this is kind of just reward for it. It’s not the Super Bowl or a grand final win, but it is great to get a win,” he said.
“It means we are doing something right, but at the same time I think the guys are really humbled. In the loss to Life, they learned a lot. Now they’ve got a win under their belt they’ve got a taste for it.”
The result improves Lindenwood to 1-2 in the league and drops Davenport to