Kentucky, Tennessee Win Key SCRC Games
Kentucky, Tennessee Win Key SCRC Games
Kentucky defeated Clemson 28-19 and Tennessee held off South Carolina 33-27 in two high-level SCRC games this weekend.
Wildcats Over Tigers
Clemson opened the game with a 60-meter breakaway off a scrum helped along by a charitable bounce of the ball after a clearance kick. But Kentucky would exert some control of the scrum after that and as a result earned several penalties when the teams packed down.
Captain Jack Phillips slotted a penalty from the 40 and at an angle to get UK on the board.
Clemson continued to threaten with some very talented runners. Flyhalf Will Perritt, fullback Justin Wade, outside center Cole Rinklin all impressed on attack, and No. 8 Cole Frank was also a handful for the Tigers.
But strong defense from Kentucky kept them away from the tryline and with Phillips putting boot to ball they were able to influence field position.
Getting into the Clemson end and securing set piece Kentucky put freshman Holden Hahn in for a try and a Phillips conversion and UK was in the lead.
Clemson responded with an excellent individual effort from Rinklin as he beat several tacklers to get over. But Kentucky answered right off the restart, pinning Clemson deep and getting a turnover thanks to a big tackle from from lock Connor Dunlop.
Clemson penalties followed and finally senior prop Jared Monnier dove over to score. Phillips converted.
Clemson continued to threaten and played some wide open rugby. Kentucky's defense was patient and weathered the onslaught before earning a penalty and kicking clear.
As halftime approached Kentucky captain and flyhalf Phillips punished yet another scrum penalty with a long-range kick that made it 20-14 at the break.
At the start of the second half Kentucky kept up the pressure. Phillips missed a penalty but Clemson still struggled to get out of their half.
Finally Kentucky scored again. Freshman centers Luke Keogh and John Dardis get over the gainline and quick ball allowed senior wing Matt Verdes to break outside and set up sophomore wing Joe Keough for the score.
Some reserves came on to inject more energy late in the game for Kentucky. Freshman center John Dardis slotted a penalty to get it to slots a penalty taking over kick duties. Clemson punished late UK penalties to get into scoring position and put one more over, but were unable to get close than 28-19.
"I am very proud of the boys," said UK Head Coach Sam Enari. We knew Clemson's scrum was the only one that held us last year and wanted to make a statement in today's game. Our tight five and the replacements did the hard work, won the hard meters, and dominated in scrum and lineout throughout."
Jared Monnier at tighthead remains a huge part of the Kentuck effort and he caused Clemson's front row problems in the scrum as well as carrying well. Freshman Hold Hahn was a menace on defense and Phillips managed the game very well from flyhalf.
"We also had six freshmen in the first 23 who played brilliantly, which bodes well for the future."
Tennessee Holds Off Rivals
Tennessee defeated South Carolina 33-27 in a classic close game between the two.
"It was gritty win; I'm pleased for the boys," said Head Coach Scott Tungay. "USC refused to die and kept coming back at us which made for a nailbiter at the end."
Senior flanker Matthew Beacom scored two tries and outside center (as well as captain) Luke Mathis scored three. Flyhalf Brendan O'Neill controlled the attack well
and kicked four out of five conversions.
"We are in Year Two of working in a few technical and tactical add-ons to what has been a very effective operation that I inherited from Marty [Bradley]," said Tungay. "The Tennessee power game continues, and we are building a short-passing game and tactical-kicking game onto that foundation. Our recruiting class has added good depth; we are running three sides every weekend, so the competition for spots has upped the intensity and work rate of the lads.
"We haven't hit our top gears yet, really tough games to start, but we are moving in a good direction."