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The Southeastern Rugby Conference got under way this weekend with the traditionally strong conference heavyweights coming away with wins. Both Tennessee and Alabama cruised but South Carolina had to work for a tough victory over Georgia.
The Volunteers continued their domination of the SCRC with a 75-3 victory over Vanderbilt. The Commodores kicked a penalty in the opening minutes but once Tennessee got rolling, Vanderbilt had no answers on defense.
“We had most of the possession throughout the game. We were pretty good at times so we were able to knock it out. It was what it was. We played 23 guys and managed it the best we could,” Tennessee coach Marty Bradley said about the blowout victory.
Vanderbilt kept the game close for the first 30 minutes trailing 19-3 but a pair of tries in quick succession from Jack Donlon made the game 33-3 at the break. Donlon tallied one more score in the second half to complete the hat trick.
“He had a really really good game and actually was just named one of the captains for the team the day before. It was a nice little run out for him. He showed good leadership and was rewarded with three tries,” Bradley said of Donlon.
In total, Tennessee had eight different players find pay dirt. A try in the 41st minute extended the lead to 40-3 and five more second half tries gave Tennessee the convincing victory.
South Carolina had a much tougher go of it in the hot Georgia sun. Although the Gamecocks got on the board first with a try in the 5th minute, they had trouble getting going early. A high penalty count and long periods in its own end kept South Carolina from extending the lead.
“We were a little slow out of the gate. We had a little trouble getting out of our own end. We were not playing that well at the beginning. We finally got some things together thanks to some pretty strong individual play from a couple of players. The overall team play could have been much better,” said South Carolina coach Steve Darnell.
One of the solid individual performances came from winger Christian Harrell. After a Georgia penalty, he scored his first of three tries on the day. The winger finished off a nice set up from captain Tim Hamill to take a 12-3 lead going into halftime.
“We finally got things together, started clicking and got the attack going,” added Darnell.
Harrell increased the lead to 19-3 with his second try but Georgia battled back with a try in the corner. Hamill, however, stemmed the Georgia momentum with a converted try. Harrell added his third score late to add to the lead late in the match. Georgia would add one more consolation score to end the match at 33-15.
It was much closer than South Carolina would have liked based on results from recent years against the Bulldogs but the South Carolina coaching staff indicated that the early parts of the season are filled with growing pains.
“That is typical for early in the season. Working in units we were a little bit lacking but individuals made sure we got the win. I think we are in good position to address it and get into are game plan that was not executed so well,” Darnell concluded.
In the final game of conference play Alabama slammed Auburn 48-0.