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A number of intriguing non-conference games took place over the weekend. Notre Dame continued its hot start under the new leadership, the Air Force Academy throttled Utah, and the Navel Academy bounced back with a win over Dartmouth in Hanover.

Notre Dame moved to 2-0 on the season with a 41-12 victory over Cincinnati. The Bearcats got off to the fast start but the Irish came on strong in the final 60 minutes for the convincing victory.

Cincinnati occupied the Notre Dame 22-meter area for the first quarter of the game but only managed 12 points. Although it was a slow start for Notre Dame, head coach Justin Hickey indicated that it was positive that his team only gave up 12 points.

“We gave up 12 points but I guess looking at it with some perspective it probably was not that bad considering how long they had possession down there,” Hickey told Rugby Today. “We kind of weathered that storm and really the last sixty minutes we started to control it.”

The Irish fell behind 7-0 and were struggling to get possession but a line break resulted in a try for Notre Dame. Besides the quick hitter, the Bearcats held onto the ball and earned a try off a quick tap and kick through.

The home side slowly took over the game, however, adding two tries to end the first half, and took a 17-12 lead into the break. The Irish continued to dominate, scoring four tries in a 10-minute span to win 41-12.

“A big thing we came away from the Michigan game was just our game management and play in different zones of the field. We really started to click last night and the guys were making those right decisions and just having the awareness of where we were when we had possession. I think Cincinnati kind of really lost a little bit of steam and we really got into a rhythm,” Hickey added.

In Hanover, Navy used a strong defensive performance to defeat Dartmouth. The first 20 minutes were back and forth until the Mid-Shipmen finally broke through with a try off a line break. Dartmouth cut into the lead with a penalty but the Naval Academy scored again at 30-minute mark and right before halftime to take 21-3 lead.

“We put a lot of pressure on them and I think we were pretty physical with them and I think that showed up in about the 35th minute,” said Navy coach Mike Flanagan. It was just a matter of our physicality and our pace. I think we made them work a lot harder than they are used to and it showed in the last few minutes of the half.”

Dartmouth got back into the game thanks to some excellent defensive pressure. The Big Green blocked a clearance kick in the Navy try zone and fell on it for the score. The conversion was missed and the game remained 21-8.

The hosts put some pressure on Navy but its defense held firm. The Mid-Shipmen sealed the game with a try in the 70th minute and added one more in the waning moments to finish the game off 33-8. It was a nice bounce back victory for Navy, who fell to NDC last week.

“The guys worked really hard and we had a good week of practice. We fixed a few things and it showed so I was pretty happy with the result,” Flanagan concluded.

In a battle of ranked teams, Air Force dismantled Utah in an early season bout out West.  It was the first run out for both teams but Air Force appeared a lot more fluid in its play. Strong continuity among both the backs and forwards led to an emphatic 66-21 victory over the Utes.

“One of the things we are most pleased about is that the players are beginning to gel. They are beginning to synchronize into the system that we have been trying to put into place for the last year,” said Air Force coach Denny Merideth.

Despite struggling with penalties and receiving two yellow cards, the Zoomies put up points in bunches. In fact, the Academy tallied five tries while down a man.

“That is not our plan to play with 14 guys in the match but it does go to show how far the guys have come and how energetic they are. They play some very passionate rugby. We are very pleased with that portion of it and they are still playing with the decorum that we have been impressing upon them,” a satisfied Merideth told Rugby Today.

Navy and Air Force will meet in the Shea Cup in two weeks at the Air Force Academy.