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Marquette Takes 3rd in GMW, Books Place in NCR Playoffs

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Marquette Takes 3rd in GMW, Books Place in NCR Playoffs

Marquette in stripes, Whitewater in gray. Alex Goff photo.

Marquette defeated Wisconsin-Whitewater in relatively emphatic fashion 54-22 to finish 3rd in the Great Midwest and book a spot in the NCR D2 playoffs.

The game was a rematch of a much earlier league game, won by Marquette 36-31. This time, however, things were poised nicely for Marquette to expand on that lead. With injuries and military commitments hitting Whitewater's lineup hard, they fielded a squad lacking in experience and with only one player—who was carrying an injury—on the  bench.

Marquette started with the wind at their backs at the Wisconsin Rugby Club venue in Cottage Grove, Wisc. and worked to use that to their advantage. Their execution, early on at least, wasn't particularly crisp and so some odd man rushes went un-exploited.

Then No. 8 Austin Draws broke through. He was dragged down by scrumhalf Ben Vanhandel picked up quickly and was over. Fullback Cormac Gallagher was good on the conversion and Marquette led 7-0.

Whitewater continued to be under some pressure and were opting not to kick out of trouble since they faced the wind. But it was slow going to make ground. When Marquette got the ball back they had a short field to contend with and center Nick Cinquepalmi sidestepped his way through for a second try and, with Gallagher's conversion, a 14-0 lead.

Whitewater finally got something going with a big run from wing Mark Hanneman. The forwards consolidated nicely and No. 8 Kyle Frederickson picked up and was over.

Up 14-5 Marquette replied nicely with a nifty chip and chase from Gallagher, that he converted. And then prop Matt Mier got on his horse and scored just before halftime.

The Marquette front row was very impressive in open field. Mier made a couple of nice plays in catching passes that weren't perfect, hooker Brian Cooke was very active, and tighthead Joey Artinian showed remarkable elusiveness for a big man.

The second half started with Nic Kimble going in for Whitewater, but Marquette marched right down to the line in reply, and eventually big lock Patrick Cooney surged over. A poor attempt to kick out of trouble after a miss penalty goal led to Marquette countering. Gallagher cut through and set up wing Sean Hipskind. Then a massive break up the middle for center George Haikal put him under the posts.

In between Frederickson scored his second, and then Hanneman scored after Whitewater attempted a drop goal that didn't quite make it.

Marquette capped it off with a try from wing Will Cambio. Gallagher made all but one conversion is logging 19 points all on his own, but it was Marquette's ball movement that had the Warhawks feathers ruffled, and with no subs Whitewater was going to have a tough time finishing strong.