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South Carolina Keeps Rolling in SCRC

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South Carolina Keeps Rolling in SCRC

Columbia, SC - The University of South Carolina Rugby traveled to the University of Kentucky this past weekend and came out victorious over the Wildcats, 42-10 to stay atop the SCRC Eastern Division.

Kentucky kicked off the first half and began a string of possession changes resulting from loose ball and forward knocks that South Carolina was ultimately able to clean up and maintain. At the five minute mark, senior lock Zak Gorman posted the first points of the match following a 15m run through the Wildcat defense. Junior scrumhalf Brian Keown successfully converted to put the Gamecocks up 7-0. Kentucky would quickly answer with a try of their own, utilizing the strength in their pack to push one in. South Carolina would maintain the lead at 7-5 after sophomore center Thomas Coar successfully charged down the kick. Following the kickoff, the Gamecocks pushed Kentucky within 5m of the try line, though were penalized and forced to play a man down, allowing the Wildcats an opportunity to regroup and return for another try of their own, giving them the lead at 10-7 heading into the second half.

The Gamecocks kicked off the second half with a revised game plan and defensive structure which seemed to complement the narrower field. Controlling the ball with the pack, Carolina capitalized early with a forward maul pushed into goal with junior flanker Jared Magill touching it down for the try. The Gamecocks followed up with an overload by the backline, with junior fullback Tim Hamill receiving the offload from Gorman to run it in on the outside for the try. The string of tries continued with Keown taking the quick tap 5m out for a try under the uprights, followed by two more quick picks from the base of a ruck, each less than 3m out. Keown would convert 6 of 6 in addition to his three consecutive tries, giving him 27 points for the day. With 35 unanswered points in the second half, Carolina defeated the Wildcats 42-10. Man of the Match honors were awarded to junior lock Zach Mullineaux from Downingtown, PA and junior scrum half Brian Keown from Newton Square, Pa.

“They have a big team this year and drove the ball well down the field on us,” stated Head Coach Mark Morris. “When we did have possession, the narrower field prevented us from simply getting it out wide to run around the outside, so we had to adjust our approach in the second half and use better defense to put Kentucky on their back foot, creating more opportunities for our backs. I’m proud of how well the guys came back and made up for the poor play in the first half, though we still need to put together a full 80 minutes of rugby if we expect to fair well over the next few weeks.”

Attrition and injuries were also on Coach Morris’ mind Saturday. “It’s been a strange year with the number of injuries we’ve had compared to previous years. We’ve felt the pressure up front, though we’ve also lost a number of reserve players to minor dings and bruises. Luckily, most of them have been about two weeks of recovery, so they don’t miss much, though for consistency purposes it’s been a challenge. It was good to have Dana Corcoran and Brian Pun return to the field this week. Dana certainly made a difference controlling the ball in the forwards and Brian stopped everything that came his way. Luckily, injuries were minimal today, so we look forward to hosting Vanderbilt with a healthy side.” 

Carolina's Reserve Side also took to the field against Kentucky in a match that saw sophomore flanker Rowan Prown and freshman center Jake Best scoring a try each, with junior scrumhalf Alex Smolen converting one for the final score of 15-12, Kentucky. Man of the Match honors were awarded to junior flanker Brian Pun from Brooklyn, NY and freshman center Richard Benninger from Cleveland, Ohio.

The Gamecocks return to action Saturday, October 25th against the University of Vanderbilt Commodores for a 12:00pm kickoff at Strom Field in Columbia, SC. A reserve match will follow.

At 4-0 USC is in 1st in a tie with Tennessee. Those two teams meet November 8. In the Western Division, Mississippi State moved to 4-0, thanks in part to a result reversal now that LSU has had to forfeit all of their matches due to a suspension - even the games they played in are now forfeits. MSU has clinched a spot in the SCRC playoffs. The second spot from the West has yet to be decided, although Alabama has an excellent shot as the Crimson Tide are 2-1 and have three games left to play.

South Carolina will host the SCRC Championships Nov. 15-16.