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Massive Statement Win for NC State

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Massive Statement Win for NC State

UNCW (in stripes) packs down vs NC State (in red and black).

NC State made a bit of a statement with Saturday’s Southern Conference victory over UNC-Wilmington.

And it was more than just a victory, but a 44-0 shutout. The Wolfpack clearly put their hand up as a conference contender.

Head Coach Brian Ketchum and his assistants John McWilliam and Alex Tomlinson have hit upon a nice formula, as well as some key foreign exchange students who can play rugby.

Tomlinson, who learned his rugby in England and run the forwards, said the key is quick ball.

“I was taught that the key was the breakdown, winning rucks, and speed at the breakdown,” said Tomlinson. “Quick ball is the most important thing. Our players have been doing a really good job of getting over the ball quickly.”

With the ball being recycled quickly the defenses are put under pressure, but even when NC State doesn’t have the ball the opposition was under pressure. 

“We always want to be putting pressure on the other team,” said Tomlinson. 

With Dutch flyhalf Tom Hyong making ground with his kicks from the hand, NC State was able to get out of trouble fairly quickly. And they worked hard to have the game played in the UNC-Wilmington end.

“We worked on our kicking strategy and we would rather defend in the opposing half than play with the ball in our half,” said Tomlinson. 

Working closely with Hyong are Craig Jablonski and Evan Thomas.

Thomas is the fullback and can kick a little bit, too, but he and Hyong have also caused opponents problems with their counter-attack. 

“You do not want them to have the ball if you’re playing us,” said Tomlinson.

Scrumhalf Jablonski, meanwhile, is a freshman (Montauk) who scored two tries and was named Man of the Match.

“He understands the idea of getting the ball out quickly and that has allowed us to control the ball a lot more,” explained Tomlinson.

So the Wolfpack controlled the game, and really 44-0 sends that measure.

Along with Jablonski’s two tries, NC State got tries from prop Ibrahim Harb, flanker Max Smeby, center Olli Swales, wing John Perry, as well as Hyong and Thomas scored tries. 

Quick ball, smart field position tactics, and a team coming together, NC State is nicely positioned to make a run.