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Navy Newbies Down SVU

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Navy Newbies Down SVU

Navy in bllue, SVU in white. Jim Bell photo.

The US Naval Academy men's team made a number of lineup changes this week as they faced a physical Southern Virginia University side in a non-conference game.

Coach Gavin Hickie put in several players who had never played a rugby game before attending the Academy and to compete against the varsity rugby programs, the Midshipmen have to make up for a lack of experience. It was the lack of games over the past 18 months that prompted Hickie to throw these players into the deep end. It paid off as Navy defeated SVU 59-5.

The Midshipmen got on the board within the first three minutes as scrumhalf Sean MacLaney, former Union County Mudturtle and Atlantis rugby product, took a quick tap near the SVU 22 meter line down to within the five-meter. Navy was awarded another penalty and chose a scrum, an early shove prompted a free kick to Navy. The Mids tapped and sent it to flanker Ben Haugh, who crashed over on the outside. Fullback Eddie Howell converted and it was 7-0.

The game settled down after that with both teams running forward crashballs to test the defense. Eventually, Navy was awarded a penalty within Howell’s range and he put the kick over for a 10-0 lead. At the 23-minute mark, Navy got another penalty and took the lineout, which they were able to drive close to the SVU line. After a series of forward crashes, Southern Virginia betrayed their impatience, infringed one too many times—Navy got a penalty try and SVU got a yellow card.

A few minutes later flyhalf Frank Bell broke through the SVU defense, the forwards consolidated, and then Navy captain and flanker Colin Brennan broke through, set a ruck, and some quick hands from hooker Sai Fautanu to wing Dale Sturdifen, who scored. 

That made it 22--0, but SVU responded and punished a couple of Navy penalties to tap and score to make it 22-5.

With time expired in the first half, Navy was able to run a number of forward crash balls which resulted in Fautanu crossing for the try. Howell converted and Navy had a 29-5 lead at the break.

In the second half, Navy once again resorted to a heavy dose of forwards crashing the ball. A few minutes into the second half, Haugh scored his second try, and then Second row sub Connor Jacobsen was able to storm through the SVU defensive line for a try of his own. Howell added a penalty for a 42-5 lead and another later on. Late in the game, Navy was able to drive a 5-meter scrum over the tryline, allowing No. 8 Jack McMahon to score. Sturdifen added one in the final moments and Navy had won 59-5.

It was a good showing for a young and inexperienced group. Many of these players will be in action against rivals Army on October 22 in the 2nd-side clash with West Point. Then the 1st 15 will take on Army on October 23 as the curtain-raiser for USA vs All Blacks in the 1874 Cup. Both of those games are at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Tickets are still available for this massive celebration of the game of rugby. Go here for tickets>>