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Charlotte, Furman Win in Southern

College Men

Charlotte, Furman Win in Southern

It will be UNC-Charlotte against Furman next week for the Southern Conference championship after both won convincing victories in the semifinals on Saturday.

Furman slammed Coastal Carolina 47-0 behind a very solid defensive display. Despite playing 60 minutes down a man after lock 

“We have been working a lot harder on defense of late and the guys executed very well today,” said Furman Head Coach John Roberts. “We have the ability to score tries and get it wide - we know that - so we’ve been working on the defensive side. We played well, and held a good Coastal team to no points. But we also made some mistakes.”

Furman lock RJ Bradley was red-carded at around 20 minutes for a tackle adjudged to be a serious tip tackle. Furman held on despite that setback and flyhalf Jeff Rein had a strong day, scoring two tries and leading the attack.

Meanwhile, UNC-Charlotte defeated UNC-Wilmington 48-17 at Wilmington. It was, apparently, the first conference loss at home for Wilmington in several years.

UNC-Charlotte Head Coach Bo Pasko, who coaches with Barry Tidd and John Brown, said that with their side of the conference essentially wrapped up a week early, the 49ers were able to spend all of the past two weeks training for Wilmington. 

“We have been trying to practice to a particular standard, and we knew when we faced UNCW that we needed to work on our ruck defense and our maul defense. We had to be able to handle their forwards. We coaches have been trying to put in some new principles and approach that are not what the players have grown up with, and it’s been tough. But then it started clicking.”

The final sequence of their final practice this week was, said Pasko, the best practice session he’d seen his team hold. It put the 49ers in a confident state of mind, and they played their best rugby on Saturday.

Prop Dalton Sherwood had a breakout game, carrying the ball with power and a low body position, while also timing his offloads to his support nicely. Scrumhalf Declan Tidd controlled the pace of the game and made the right calls, while fullback Blake Jackson’s goalkicking was key. Oddly, Charlotte also had to deal with a red card in the forwards, but handled it and won 48-17. 

INCW was expected to have the run of play in the forwards, and Charlotte was expected to be stronger in the backs. As it turned out, the Charlotte forwards did enough. Along with Sherwood, forward Ryan Johns scored three tries.

These two teams have already met, with Furman taking a 13-5 decision on October 6. It is expected to be just as tight in the final.