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Salisbury knocked off a tough UNC-Wilmington side 32-14 to earn a berth in the DII final four. The Sharks defeated Coastal Carolina, VMI and UNC-Wilmington in the last two weeks to make it to Greenville.
“We had to work for it….We did not have an easy time of it,” Salisbury coach Doc Davis told Rugby Today.
Wilmington got on the board first after some sloppy play to take a 7-0 lead. The Sharks, however, muscled over a try to tie the game and flung the ball through the backs after a quick tap to take a 12-7 lead. Salisbury exploited space in the opponent backline a number of times on the weekend to score tries. Spearheaded by the nifty scrumhalf, Blake Carroll, and versatile back Nick Rodriguez, Salisbury found success in the wide channels.
“It was just essentially wide open play with good support. They were a very forward oriented team as was VMI and by necessity we had to play against their defense. We tried to take it to the backs after that,” added Davis,
The Seahawks struggled with penalties and saw two men sent to the sin bin in the first half. The Sharks extended their lead to 15-7 after one binning and added a try to extend the lead to 22-7.
UNC-Wilmington battled back and earned a penalty try to cut the lead to 22-14. The Seahawks could not muster any more points, however, and a try from Scotty Wheeler sealed the game. The big forward had a tremendous performance on both days and earned high praises from his coach.
“He is always very dependable and this weekend he was not only dependable but he played at the best level I have ever seen him play before,” said Davis.
The Sharks added one more try and won the match 32-14. “I thought that we played a very well disciplined defensive game and just about everybody stood up as far as their defense goes,” Davis added.
Salisbury will play two-time defending National Champions Minnesota-Duluth in the semi-finals. It will be a tough match but Salisbury is relishing the opportunity to get revenge for a 2013 National Championship loss at the hands of the Fighting Penguins.
“We know what we are getting into. We have had two very tough games against them and we know them well and what to expect. They are highly talented, in good condition, strong and that is what we are going to have to train for,” said Davis.