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Fairfield, Brown, AIC Lead in Liberty

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Fairfield, Brown, AIC Lead in Liberty

Fairfield rode a strong second half to beat Fordham. Photo @coolrugbyphotos.

AIC, Brown, and Fairfield are on top of the Liberty D1 Conference as all three won this week.

AIC won their second very close game this season, edging Dartmouth 27-25. The Yellow Jackets scored three unconverted tries to take a 15-5 first-half lead before Dartmouth edged closer. But AIC did a good job of keeping the Big Green at arm's length, scoring early in the second half. Dartmouth clawed back to make it 22-17, but a late try from AIC kept them in front even as Dartmouth scored with time winding down. 

The Yellow Jackets, led by  consistent, hardworking shift from prop Joey Allard, are coming together, said Head Coach T Fletcher. "I've been pushing the message that we're all bringing different skill sets to the pitch. We need to learn that those are and work within our strengths."

They will want to get some more conversions kicked.

In the East, while AIC it at top, have three very good teams—Dartmouth, Nazareth, and Northeastern—at 1-1, and a Buffalo team that only has a razor-thin loss on their record so far. So it is still all very close.

Brown beat Iona 32-5 in a game that was probably more competitive than the score indicates. Iona's lineout functioned well but they traded off with the scrums. Browns' forward pack has been very good in the scrum and got their first two tries from that platform—one a penalty try. And they continued to take advantage of scrum penalties throughout the game.

Brown's defense has been very good all season and after this win, and victories over Harvard and Syracuse, they are at 3-0 and in first place in the Liberty D1 West.

"Iona was a good physical test for us," said Brown Head Coach David Laflamme. "They had strong line speed and put us under pressure, particularly in the first half. We struggled with certain aspects of our game which will be the focus of this week's training however our defense was solid."

Iona's penalties caught up with them and two late yellow cards didn't help them.

"[the cards] allowed us to chip away at the score," said Laflamme, whose side scored two converted tries and two penalty goals in the second half. "My guys strung together some some sequences in the second half.  They showed good patience which paid off late in the game."

Iona dropped to 1-2 but got some good performances from backs Vili Hopoi and Archil Kvaratskhelia and flanker Conor Byrne. 

But they are in 1st in part only because Fairfield has only played two games but has won both, against Iona and, this weekend, Fordham.

Fordham actually played very well, coming off a shutout win over Colgate. They won the territorial and the physical battle in the first half and led 10-8. But after John Thompson intercepted a lineout pass to run in and score, Fairfield started to turn the momentum. With Ben Ehlers and Connor Rinklin controlling the attacking game and Fairfield started to attack wide. With No. 8 Nick Lapponese continuing to play superbly on attack and defense, and lock Juan Sturla working hard in tight, Fairfield scored 27 straight points to lead 37-8 before a Santi Thompson try brought Fordham a little closer at 37-15. Francisco Liquori was very good for Fordham at flyhalf.

This was also the inaugural playing of the Jeffery P. von Arx, SJ Cup. Father von Arx previously served at both schools, as Dean of Fordham University and as President of Fairfield University. 

Unofficial standings (with Syracuse's record corrected):

Liberty D1 East W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
AIC 3 0 0 84 59 25 3 0 15
Dartmouth 1 1 0 50 48 2 2 1 7
Nazareth 1 1 0 40 41 -1 0 1 5
Northeastern 1 1 0 41 49 -8 1 0 5
Buffalo 0 1 0 25 27 -2 1 1 2
Harvard 0 3 0 34 109 -75 0 0 0
Liberty D1 West W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
Brown 3 0 0 128 20 108 3 0 15
Fairfield 2 0 0 78 35 43 2 0 10
Syracuse 1 1 0 67 49 18 1 0 5
Iona 1 2 0 72 87 -15 1 0 5
Fordham 1 2 0 44 84 -40 0 0 4
Colgate 0 2 0 12 67 -55 0 0 0