GRR on X  GRR on Facebook GRR in Instagram GRR Vimeo Library GRR on YouTube RuggaMatrix America Podcasts Support GRR on Patreon

Lindenwood Belleville Downs Tennessee

irish rugby tours

Lindenwood Belleville Downs Tennessee

Lindenwood Belleville defeated Tennessee 30-22 Friday in an early-fall run-out for both teams.

For the Lindenwood-Belleville Lynx, it was a very successful, if imperfect, step into DI rugby. The Lynx started as a varsity program last year, making the WIIL Conference final, and getting into the national quarterfinals. They only lost twice, to the two national DII finalists. 

So beating a DI opponent, especially one just on the field, wasn’t a huge surprise. L-B ran out to an 8-0 lead with a penalty from Kristian Poletti and a long-range try. Tennessee had a lineout close to the Lindenwood-Belleville line, but the throw was long and L-B’s freshman loose forward Jason Barnahart grabbed the ball and started a movement that ended with freshman back Juan Pablo Aguirre going in to score.

It was an impressive try, but Tennessee came right back, punishing L-B penalties and scoring from a lineout and maul.

A break by Lynx center Ben Martin set up freshman back Filippo Banzato, and Aguirre converted to extend the Lindenwood-Belleville lead to 15-5, and the half ended with Tennessee knocking on the door, and then knocking the ball on.

Lindenwood-Belleville had plenty of ball, said Head Coach Pat Clifton, but gave Tennessee scoring opportunities with penalties.

“We go after it at the tackle on defense and that was producing a lot of penalties against us,” said Clifton. “The penalty count against us was our fault. We talked about adjusting to the referee, but we didn’t really do it, and it cost us.”

Tennessee scored early in the second half, once again punishing L-B penalties. But then the Illinois team started to pull away, scoring two tries to make it 27-12. However, they also came close to scoring a couple more times and weren’t able to put it away. As a result, the door was open for Tennessee and two late tries made it 27-22 with time winding down.

With Tennessee on the attack, “we needed someone to make a play,” said Clifton. “Tennessee had the momentum.”

That’s when freshman Dillon Brannen made a key turnover tackle that stymied the Volunteers, and ended up leading to a penalty kick that finished the game off 30-22.

Tennessee should not be too discouraged by the result, as the Vols have had little time together yet. Several players, including some new recruits, showed well.

For Lindenwood-Belleville, their set piece, especially in the first half, performed well, especially the lineout, and served as a nice platform for scoring movements. However, some injuries early shook up their timing.