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Notre Dame College Victory Headlines Rugby East Weekend

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Notre Dame College Victory Headlines Rugby East Weekend

Try time NDC. Jack Nece photo.

It was yet another weekend of wild results in the Rugby East.

The league has been highlighted by several close games, and while only one this week was within a try, another was a tense affair throughout. 

Notre Dame College vs St. Bonaventure

This was a game for the top seed in the NCR D1 playoffs coming out of the Rugby East (remember Navy and Life play in the D1A playoffs in the spring). Coming into the match NDC was 3-1-1 overall in the conference and Bonnies was 4-2. Fans got a taste of what was to come with NDC's 2nd side edging St. Bonaventure's 2nds 22-17 in a game where NDC played a very long period of time defending their tryline.

Seems like a plan.

In the varsity game NDC could not really string phases together. They repeatedly got into penalty trouble in the breakdown and also in terms of being offside. But they handled the contact well enough, while St. Boanventure was more dynamic out wide. However, the Falcons' defense was at times desperate and always aggressive. Bonnies, with the second row pairing of Maseah Young (Xavier HS, NY) and Taman Singh (Elmira, NY) winning lineouts and causing havoc, and flyhalf Wilson Koina (transfer from Siena) pulling the strings, they looked very dangerous.

Still the NDC defense held, and when they got chances, they took them. 

After a series of penalties St. Bonaventure took their three points to open the scoring. But Notre Dame College answered with a kick exchange that ended with an NDC lineout inside the Bonaventure half. The drive off the lineout was good and some powerful runs got them close. There we finally saw the patience NDC had lacked on defense—in a goalline offensive situation they had patience to spare and methodically the forwards, among them Dylan Pickering, Joseph Vanbuskirk, and Fraser Leslie, got them over the line.

Now NDC led 7-3 and it remained so for some time. Bonnies threatened but the Falcons forced a penalty on their tryline at one point, and benefited from a scrum infringement close to their line, as well. St. Bonaventure couldn't seal the deal.

Eventually NDC got out of trouble and some nice running from Ashawnty Staples coupled with some effective kicking for territory led to a scrum near the Bonnies line. Injuries in the front row have hurt St. Bonaventure, and the bigger and more experienced NDC pack rolled them backward, basically producing an eight-man shove to get over the line for the try and take a 14-3 lead.

Once against St. Bonaventure spent a long period inside the NDC half. They came close to scoring on a nifty backline move only to be shoved into touch. NDC's penalties began to mount, and finally they opted for a penalty from Koina and a 14-6 score going into the break.

In the second half we saw more of St. Bonaventure's adventurous play, but if they were met man-and-ball, very often that ball was spilled. Finally, though, it all came together as solid lineout ball from Young produced a nice movement with Koina linking with fullback Matheo Lorenzato, who drew a man and set up Noah Edwards for a thriller of a try in the corner. Kick good from the touchline and it was 14-13 NDC just barely ahead.

Notre Dame College was impatient when they were on defense, giving up penalties for basically trying too hard to poach the ball in the breakdown when the poach wasn't there to be had, and with the ball they often found themselves working to get that extra meter, only to see Bonnies get the ball back. They were unable to get the attack going, but benefited from a strong defense and a scrum that was winning consistent ball. Bonnies unleashed their backline once more, but the Falcons were wise to it, eventually forcing the Wolves to opt for penalty kicks.

Two more and it was 19-14 St. Bonaventure and there was a chance Bonnies to run the game out.

Not so fast. Once again the scrum became a factor. Bonnies had a scrum about 15 meters inside their own half. But the Falcons drove them off the ball and No. 8 Tadiwa Kainga—usually the starter but coming off the bench this week—picked up and took off toward the left. Scrumhalf  and captain Remy Thomson was with him and took the pass before feeding Killian Burns, who dove athletically into the corner. The referee consulted with his AR and awarded the try. Clemente Aguirre slotted the conversion from the sideline and somewhat shockingly Notre Dame College was ahead 21-19.

With time winding down NDC powered over for another, which was a little bit of a shame, really, because this game had been within a score for most of the time, and ended 28-19.

It was another thriller in the Rugby East and one that likely secured NDC as the top seed in the NCR D1 playoffs from this conference. St. Bonaventure did themselves no dishonor in the game but will be shaking their heads at how they couldn't finish off their scoring chances.

"We couldn't finish our opportunities and we're a little frustrated at that," said St. Bonaventure Head Coach Tui Osborne. "The goal was to do one more of those [tries] but it didn't happen. But we're hoping to go into the quarters with a different mind set. But this conference is great. We had five freshmen starting, but for them to be performing the way they are I am super proud of them. Some scrum work needed, some ground work, but they did have a big pack."

For NDC there were too many penalties.

"Did we play more than two phases?" asked Head Coach Hugh Johnston only a little sarcastically. "I was really pleased with our defense and our scrum. But we have to reduce the penalties."

SVU shocked Kutztown, coming back from a 33-15 deficit to score with no time left and win 34-33. 

SVU started working to keep the ball alive and certainly they finished fresh and upright, playing fast and putting some powerful bodies into the pack. Southern Virginia's tries sparking their comeback were started by the backs but finished by the single-digit-guys. Both were converted and with 10 minutes to go it was 33-29. Kutztown had the ball with time almost up when an ill-advised kick ended up producing a knock-on. From that scrum in the SVU half Kutztown was penalized. The Knights tapped and with some elusive running and nice offloads off the deck had Kutztown scrambling. And scramble they did, making tackle after tackle to stop the breakaway try. Finally, though, Weston Memmott, who had just wrestled in a meet for SVU a few days before, powered over, and the Knights won.

In less tense surroundings, Navy clinched 1st in the entire Rugby East with a 53-5 defeat of Penn State. Center Andrew Baublitz scored two tries; Roanin Krieger scored a try and added nine more points with the boot. Sean MacLaney continued his strong form with a try. Navy is now 6-0 in the conference.

Life defeated Mount St. Mary's 54-10. Life opened with Logan Bellinger powering over but MSM actually scored fairly early on a really nice try on the wing. Ellis Davis answered with a brilliant run down the sideline. Jeron Pantor capped off a backline insurgency. Hooker Adam Chadwick scored off a maul to finish the first half and they rolled from there.

Queens defeated Mary Washington 37-28 and that result, along with Kutztown's loss, probably ensured that Queens will get a play-in match into NCR's D1 playoffs.

Queens jumped to an early 7-3 lead , but UMW responded to go ahead 18-10. Landon Starnes scored for Queens at 32 minutes to inch his side to within a point, and another try just before halftime gave Queens a lead. Once against UMW stormed back and led 28-24, but once again Queens came back to improve to 4-4.

So in the end this has been a hugely successful year for Rugby East. With one game left on the schedule, 10 of the 33 games have been either a tie (one game) or within a try—30% for close games is very high. Five more games were within two scores.

Rugby East Scores

Kutztown 22-44 St. Bonaventure
Penn State 6-26 Army
Southern Virginia 20-81 Mount St. Mary's
Queens 0-71 Navy
Army 26-29 St. Bonaventure
Mount St. Mary's 16-15 Kutztown
Kutztown 15-55 Navy
Life 42-21 Mary Washington
Notre Dame College 9-9 Army
Southern Virginia 28-52 Queens
St. Bonaventure 21-15 Penn State
Mount St. Mary's 20-39 Mary Washington
Navy 20-14 Life
Notre Dame College 24-19 Penn State
Army 26-7 Queens
Kutztown 7-19 Notre Dame College
Life 87-10 Southern Virginia
St. Bonaventure 3-15 Navy
Army 7-27 Kutztown
Penn State 15-20 Mary Washington
Queens 10-63 Life
Southern Virginia 7-78 Notre Dame College
St. Bonaventure 17-37 Mount St. Mary's
Life 39-24 Army
Penn State 18-31 Kutztown
Notre Dame College 19-50 Navy
Mary Washington 8-12 St. Bonaventure
Queens 14-17 Mount St. Mary's
Kutztown 33-34 Southern Virginia
Mary Washington 28-37 Queens
Mount St. Mary's 10-54 Life
Navy 53-5 Penn State
St. Bonaventure 19-28 Notre Dame College
Mary Washington   Southern Virginia


Rugby East W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
Navy 6 0 0 264 56 208 4 0 28
Life 5 1 0 299 95 204 5 1 26
Notre Dame College 4 1 1 177 111 66 3 0 21
Mount St. Mary's 4 2 0 181 159 22 2 0 18
St. Bonaventure 4 3 0 145 151 -6 2 0 18
Kutztown 2 5 0 150 193 -43 4 2 14
Army 2 3 1 118 117 1 3 0 13
Mary Washington 2 3 0 116 126 -10 2 1 11
Queens 2 4 0 120 233 -113 2 1 11
Southern Virginia 1 4 0 99 331 -232 2 0 6
Penn State 0 6 0 63 154 -91 0 3 3