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Norwich Clinches NECRC

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Norwich Clinches NECRC

The Norwich University men's rugby team remained undefeated (7-0) with a convincing 39-12 victory over NECRC rival University of Vermont.

The Cadets' victory clinched the NECRC 2016 Conference Championship and gives them an automatic bid to the USA Division II Collegiate Rugby National round of 16.

Norwich took an early 7-0 lead at the four minute mark with a try from senior center Blair Woodley and a Keegan Frick conversion. UVM answered with try a narrowing the score 7-5. Then Norwich ran off thirty-two unanswered points until closing minutes of the match. Frick added a penalty kick at the 26th minute, Chase Bullen a converted try at the 18th minute, and Keyon McCloud- Holman a try at final play of the first half, Norwich 22- UVM 5.

Norwich continued its dominance on the day by scoring three more tries by sophomore  center Austin Manhey, senior winger Mark Hill, and the last try of the day by senior #8 Eric Pierone. Hill's try was converted by Woodley. At the 74th minute Norwich had a commanding 39-5 lead. UVM scored a converted try with four minutes remaining to end the scoring on the day with a 39-12 Norwich victory.

Things aren't over for Vermont, not by a long shot. While UVM has not clinched 2nd place, they are very close to doing so, and can with a win over Middlebury this coming Saturday. Both Middlebury and Rhode Island are in with a shot at catching Vermont, but need Vermont to lose to Middlebury and need to win their other games. URI plays New Hampshire on Saturday, and then November 12 it's Rhode Island v Middlebury - a game that could possibly be for the second national playoff spot. The thing is, that second playoff game is slated for the same weekend against Colonial Coast winners Salve Regina. If the URI v Middlebury game decides who takes the 2nd playoff seed, then the national 1st round game would have to be played on November 13.

If Vermont beats Middlebury, even without a bonus point, UVM clinches 2nd. Even a tie with a four-try bonus point will do the job. But a tie (no bonus point) could open up the possibility that Rhode Island could catch them. URI would need to win both of their final two games, with bonus points, and win by a total of 73 points or more, to catch UVM. Middlebury, meanwhile, needs to beat Vermont, and deny UVM any bonus point, and then beat Rhode Island, and earn four-try bonus points in both games.

Given that Middlebury lost to Vermont by only two the last time they met, and then logged 77 points over New Hampshire this past weekend (winning 77-12), thus bolstering their points difference, the Panthers certainly could do it.

As for Norwich, this has been a dream season so far. Weggler said the team has come together as a unit, and when reserves have been called in to make a contribution, they have done so. Center/flyhalf Blair Woodley was one such person, and he ended up being player of the game.

"The boys came ready to play, they wanted to win to clinch the NECRC conference, clinch an automatic bid to Nationals, and to win on our last home match for the seniors. So there definitely was a carrot and it showed," said Weggler.



New England CRC W L T Pf Pa Pd BT BL Pts
Norwich 7 0 0 258 113 145 6 0 34
Vermont 4 3 0 189 128 61 4 2 22
Rhode Island 3 3 0 148 160 -12 2 0 14
Middlebury 2 4 0 193 108 85 2 2 12
New Hampshire 0 6 0 45 326 -281 0 0 0