You are here
Fairfield defeated Vassar 50-12 at home to take the Tri-State title Sunday. The Stags used solid counter attacking and a potent backline to dispatch the Brewers and punch their ticket to Nationals.
In the early stages of the game and much of the first half, Vassar monopolized possession with continuous pick-and-go from the ruck. Vassar was playing without three backline starters, forcing flyhalf Kenta Hasui to slot in at inside center. It was clear from the onset that Brewers were looking to play a forward-centric game. As a result, Fairfield began getting a little impatient, committing numerous penalties at the breakdown for failing to roll away and diving over at the rucks.
After a penalty, Vassar earned a lineout five meters from the Fairfield line, but the Stags stole the lineout and went the length of the field for a try under the posts. At 7-0, the Brewers continued to earn penalties but failed to capitalize on Fairfield's indiscipine. After a string of penalties on the goal line, Vassar went for posts but the kicked sailed wide. The ensuing 22-meter kick was knocked on, and Fairfield worked its way down the field for a second score. Fairfield added two more tries before the break to go up 24-0 at halftime.
“We monopolized possession for good periods but did not turn it into points,” Vassar Coach Tony Brown told Rugby Today.
The second half started similar to the first with Vassar controlling possession. However, an errant pass resulted in Fairfield picking up a lose ball and finding winger Joe Derico for a try under the posts. Derico had three scores on the day for the Stags.
At 31-0, the referee yellow carded a Stag for an infringement at the ruck and a second minutes later for hitting a man in the air. Vassar was able to punch in a try up two players but was unable to muster any more points with the advantage.
Despite being down two players, Fairfield managed to stem the tide a bit. “It was just a tremendous performance. I don’t want to single anyone out today,” Fairfield head coach Ben Kelley said.
As Fairfield got its penalized players back from the bin, the floodgates began to open. The Stags capitalized on some missed tackles from the Brewers to add three more tries in the half. A consolation try from Vassar at the death ended the game 50-14 in favor of Fairfield.
In total, Fairfield punched in eight tries. Fairfield was able to break through the Vassar back line all afternoon and finished line breaks very well. “We have had defensive frailties all year where we have conceded points," said Brown. “If you miss tackles one-on-one, you are going to lose.”
Kelley was pleased with another strong victory from his club. “It is a true testament to this whole season, the hard work we have put in since day one,” said Kelley. “To take this mob by a score like that, I am just very very proud.”
Moving forward the Stags will face increasingly tougher competition and need to sharpen up some aspects of their game. “We tend to get penalized a lot at the ruck and that is disappointing,” added Kelley. Fairfield will need to limit the penalty count moving into next week’s play-in game against MARC runner-up Rowan in the first round of the national playoffs.