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In Clash of Champions Lindenwood Women Beat Dartmouth

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In Clash of Champions Lindenwood Women Beat Dartmouth

Amy Brice scored a try and had a direct hand in the other five for Lindenwood. Todd Lunow photo.

The battle of the two major national champions ended up in Lindenwood's favor Saturday but it was certainly a close-run thing.

In the end Lindenwood defeated Dartmouth at the Big Green's Brophy Field 30-15, but the game was within a try into the fourth quarter of the match and was hotly contested throughout. All of the points in the game came from tries, with no conversions on a cold, windy day in New Hampshire.

Both teams played hard defense and did not shy away from contact. Both also wanted to use the ball wide and in the end perhaps the difference was #13 for Lindenwood, as the experienced Amy Brice's passing set up four tries.

Dartmouth scored first, putting Lindenwood under some pressure deep in their 22 and then tapping a penalty. Scrumhalf Sadie Schier fed tighthead prop Cindy Taulava who charged to the line before offloading to hooker Sian Meni, who dove over.

Lindenwood responded. After Dartmouth tried to run out of their 22 and got tackled into touch, the Lions won the lineout and sent it wide. Brice sliced through and sent a nice pass to wing Tanaka Kanyepi to dive in at the corner.

That tied it up 5-5, but soon thereafter the Big Green answered. Some tough defense forced a knock-on just inside the Dartmouth half. From the scrum they ran an 8-9 move to the weak side and Schier drew the attention of two Lindenwood backs, which allowed her to feed wing Katelyn Walker, who took off, accelerating out of tackles and going 55 meters to score in the corner. it was a brilliant run sort of out of nowhere and put Dartmouth up 10-5 at 27 minutes.

Once again Lindenwood came right back. Powerful carries from prop Longosai Tausinga and Jenalei Fifita put the Lions on the front foot and that allowed them to go wide where fullback Demi Allen and Brice ran a give-and-go resulting in Allen thumping through two tacklers to score in the corner.

That made it 10-10, and Lindenwood finally took the lead just before halftime. From a scrum they went wide again. This time Brice cut through on a scything run and looked for all money to be on the way to score. She was caught just before the tryline and lost the ball forward. Brice, once she looks at the replay, will probably be kicking herself for not sending a pass to Kanyepi. Still, it worked out, as Lindenwood drove Dartmouth off the ball in the scrum and flanker Samantha Ganoza picked up and was over to make it 15-10 at halftime.

The scrum proved to be an excellent platform for Lindenwood and they used the scrum to get their next try. Just a few minutes into the second half they spun it wide quickly. Brice made a superb pass to wing Makenna Bailey, who raced 20 meters to score the Lions' fourth try.

Both defenses ramped up and neither was willing to give up when backed up on their tryline. That was reflected in the next 10 minutes or so as neither team was able to finish off chances. Finally Dartmouth got into Lindenwood territory with a quick tap on a penalty and some smart territorial kicking. The result was a Lindenwood lineout near the Lions' tryline. The throw, however, was not straight, and from the ensuing scrum Dartmouth No. 8 Nikki Ihensekhien picked it up and set a ruck near the right sideline. From there Dartmouth ran eight passes straight to the opposite wing. A couple of those passes went to ground but were neatly scooped up, with the Big Green players not content to just wait for a tackle. The result was freshman wing Paola Arredondo Almeida diving in at the corner to make it a one-score game at 20-15.

At this point every try had been scored within 10 meters of the sideline, with most right on the edge. No wonder there were no conversions.

Lindenwood still held the lead, and built on it. They camped out in the Dartmouth 22 sending their powerful forwards at the line but somehow the Big Green defenders held. The sequence was an excellent example of what women's college rugby can be. Lindenwood changed it up and went wide, and still Dartmouth defended. But Brice, who had come close earlier, folded around to the far side, took the pass from scrumhalf Meg Maiava, got low, and was over.

Despite Dartmouth's best efforts, they finally had a defensive breakdown, and a wide pass from Brice allowed Madison Jersey to burst onto it and beat two defenders for 60 meters.

And that was it. Lindenwood 30 Dartmouth 15.

It was a very well-played game and both showed why they are champions. 

"For us this is a chance to play a very competitive game and find ways to get better," Dartmouth Head Coach Katie Dowty said before the game. "It will present challenges that both of our teams want more of. Neither of us will be given any easy opportunities in the game, we’ll have to create them. We’ll have to adjust and adapt throughout the game — we don’t know their playing style like we do most of our NIRA opponents — another great learning opportunity. Hopefully it makes us both stronger as we build toward our respective championships, but I’d certainly love to see Lindenwood join the NCAA ranks and hope they have a great experience playing here at Dartmouth."