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Syracuse defeated Colgate 30-8 Saturday to claim second place in the Empire Rugby Conference. Coming into the game, both the Hammerheads and the Red Raiders held a 4-1 record and were playing for the right to take on Stony Brook in the conference championship on November 7th.
The first 20 minutes of the game were very tight with each team only able to net a penalty. The Red Raiders had several scoring chances but the Hammerheads defense held firm.
“They really pushed us and they had three potential scores that we were able to hold up. Had that happened we would have been behind the eight ball early on,” said Syracuse coach Bob Wilson.
Syracuse flyhalf Alex Hogkinson broke the deadlock with a line break and a 20-meter try. Now a senior, the former Wasps youth product came to Syracuse and made a tremendous impact as a freshman. However, the last two seasons Hodgkinson spent on the Syracuse football team and away from rugby. In his senior season, the fly half returned and according Wilson the time off had little effect on him.
“It was like riding a bike he didn’t forget. His decision-making was outstanding. Feeding the runners, kicking to space, missed passes to open players. Just a very high quality decision maker,” Wilson said of his 10.
Syracuse really took advantage of the set piece, scoring the second try of the game through a pushover scrum. The Hammerheads went into the break up 15-3 and in the second half added two tries from rolling mauls off of lineouts.
“We spent a lot of time at the beginning of the season working on our scrimmaging and that came good for us,” added Wilson. “…That really was the difference.”
Colgate struggled with the boot on the day, missing a number of penalties and scoring opportunities. However, in their second season in DI the Red Raiders have grown leaps and bounds.
“Colgate are a very talented team. I was, frankly, surprised at the talent level. Fortunately for us, we really played better than we had all season and we had to,” said Wilson.
With the win, Syracuse earned the right to play Stony Brook in the Empire conference finals on November 7th. The Seawolves defeated Syracuse 34-26 on the road after falling behind 14-0.
“It was competitive game and that gave us motivation from that point on to try and win out so we got the chance to play them again, which is what we achieved. We are very much looking forward to that game. They are highly talented and have some tremendous athletes,” concluded Wilson.