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Late Champagne Rugby Takes Lindenwood Over Life

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Late Champagne Rugby Takes Lindenwood Over Life

Nic Hardrict II scored the go-ahead try for Lindenwood. Photo Todd Lunow.

Two well-taken and expansive tries saw Lindenwood break away from Life to win the second Mid-South game between the two Saturday.

Played at Lindenwood’s Hunter Stadium, the game was contested in cold weather with a swirling wind. Both teams wanted to play in the other team’s end but the breeze had a bit of say in that. Both teams wanted to dominate the point of contact, but the opposition had a bit of a say in that, too.

Early on, then, there was plenty of kicking, with Life flyhalf Bradley Crane trying to get his side out of trouble, and Lindenwood scrumhalf Matteo Peignon unleashing some very effective box kicks.

And it was a kick and chase that produced the first try. A very good box kick out of trouble from Peignon put the Life fielders under pressure and eventually a penalty for not releasing set up Peignon to tap quickly and snake over.

The wind blew the ball off the kicking tee but Peignon managed to get it back on the tee and kick the ball over from a tough angle in time.

Life battled on and tried to unleash their outside backs. The Lindenwood defense, however, was comfortably able to keep them contained. In the end it was a penalty and lineout that led to Life’s points. The Running Eagles set up the maul and it was dragged down by the Lions. Penalty, warning, and another lineout-and-maul. The maul was pulled down again and referee Amelia Luciano had no hesitation in giving the penalty try and a yellow card to lock Eduan Van Heerden.

Unfazed, Lindenwood went right down the field to threaten the Life line. Wing Tyren Al-Jiboori bulled his way through traffic, but when he went to ground to score the try, a Life University body was under. Chances did go begging. Peignon missed a drop goal attempt soon thereafter and later a penalty attempt also. As the half progressed, Life had an excellent chance as they ran some quick interior players to get close to the line.

That ended with a ball lost forward, and Life Head Coach said, “that was partly about guys getting away from their roles. If everyone had just done his job we probably would have scored.”

So the half ended 7-7.

In the second half it remained 7-7 even as the momentum changed. With the wind now, Life was able to pin Lindenwood in their 22. The Running Eagles got close and had some excellent chances off penalties. This included a maul that was stopped just before the line, and another halted to give Lindenwood the scrum.

And yet it all remained deadlocked.

Then with 10 minutes to go Lindenwood worked a play off a scrum. They brought Al-Jiboori into the backline off the weak side, and he drew a defender and passed out to Nick Hardrict II. The wing took off down the sideline, fending off several LIfe tacklers, maintaining his balance, and finally taking it 45 meters into the corner.

It was a brilliant combination of a team piecing it together and individual brilliance.

“As the game went on I thought maybe we just need to get the ball to Hardrict one time,” said Lindenwood Head Coach Josh Macy. “He’s just so explosive.”

Lindenwood came right back after that, running some misdirections and a series of offloads—some speculative but effective enough. One offload bounced on the turf but flanker Cian Darling, who was excellent all afternoon, swooped in to pick it up and break down the left side. He linked with his teammates and finally flanker Runako Brynard thundered over in the corner. 

That made it 17-7 and that’s how it ended. Forced to run everything and go for tries with everything Life was stymied. the Running Eagles had also been hit with key injuries that saw Crane and Darius Law come off, and then Julian Roberts also leave the field. With their backline hit so hard, especially with their top kickers off, they had trouble.

Life got a massive effort from lock Charlie Overton, who was physically imposing, good in the lineout, and active all over. For Lindenwood, Peignon was a pest all day while Darling always seemed to be in the middle of the action. The Lindenwood backs bided their time, but the Rhys Smith to Al-Jiboori to Hardrict produced the game-winner.

With the victory Lindenwood is now atop the Mid-South and while the Lions haven’t mathematically clinched, they are very, very close. Life slips to 3-2 and also 3-2 is Davenport, which defeated Arkansas State 17-14.


Lindenwood 17
Tries: Peignon, Hardrict II, Brynard
Convs: Peignon

Life 7
Tries: Penalty Try
Convs: Penalty Try

Mid-South 2022-23 W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
Lindenwood 4 1 0 129 65 64 2 0 18
Life 3 2 0 117 65 52 2 0 14
Davenport 3 2 0 67 99 -32 0 0 12
Arkansas State 0 5 0 38 122 -84 0 1 1