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Rugby East: Life Steps In, Bonnies Follows On, NDC and Army Tie

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Rugby East: Life Steps In, Bonnies Follows On, NDC and Army Tie

Life vs UMW. David Hughes photo.

Life University opened its Rugby East account with a 40-21 victory over Mary Washington Saturday.

This was the first ever Rugby East game for the Running Eagles as they moved into the conference starting this year. 

"We were very happy to get stuck into our first conference game in Rugby East," said Life Director of Rugby Blake Bradford. "We have a young team with a new coaching staff to our focus this week was to play simple and direct. We want to be a team that works hard for each other and does the basics well."

The Life players were perhaps a little overeager to get into conference play; certainly they got a lot of penalties.

"We kept them in the game with the penalty count," said Bradford. "So we will look to clean that up this week."

Leading the way for Life was back-rower Logan Ballinger. Working hard in support and on defense, the Boca Raton, Fla. product and USA U20 player, Ballinger took a nice step forward as a player this week. 

Meanwhile, top-of-the-heap Navy defeated a tough Kutztown team 55-15. Andrew Baublitz continued his solid freshman season with two tries. Ben Haugh, JD Bengston, Landon Opp, Tanner Russell, Sean MacLaney, and Michael Kalalu all scored tries as well. As usual, Roanin Krieger helped keep the scoreboard ticking over with six conversions and a penalty.

“We couldn’t get into our flow today. We had some distributions early on and we have to learn how to overcome them to enforce our will in the game and any situation,” said Navy Director of Rugby Gavin Hickie. “Overall I thought we did okay. It’s hard to be really critical of ourselves when we beat an opponent like Kutztown by 40 points, but again it’s never about our opponents. It’s about us and our journey. There were plenty of areas in that game that we will address this week that we have to get right knowing what’s on the horizon next weekend. We have one shot against Life and we have to get it right with a big week of training.”

On the other side of the scoring spectrum was Notre Dame College and Army. These two could not find the tryline in wet, quite unfavorable conditions, and ended up tied 9-9.

"Super soft under foot," said NDC Head Coach Hugh Johnston, who said that the way the game was played, with a lot of kicking and the ball then being kept tight in the forwards, it felt like a classic test match. "We're super happy ith our defense; have only leaked one try in three games."

NDC's kicking remains a strength but their lineout still needs work.

"Credit to Army, they were very quick on the ground and jumped well," said Johnstone, who will also be unhappy about some silly penalties and two yellow cards that put the Falcons back in their half.

NDC, however, did finish well. "All credit to the boys to keep the pressure up and leak no more points, especially given how strong Army is in the last quarter of the game."

For Army, this tie follows last week's loss to St. Bonaventure. 

"We certainly would have liked different results the last few weeks," said Head Coach Matt Sherman. "But when the ball's been in play we;ve been doing a lot of things well. With that said, our struggles to finish and our penalty trouble have undone much of these positive aspects. I believe there's a quality team in us, but we clearly have some things to sort out to reach that level."

Queens defeated Southern Virginia 52-28, but a more pessimistic observer might point out that the Royals left in four tries and couldn't completely shake SVU.

And coming off a close win over Army, St. Bonaventure avoided the curse of following a big win with a lackluster loss. Led by Cooper Laczkowski, James Aitken, and Reynard Boshoff, Bonnies came back form a 15-7 deficit to win the game.

With these results, St. Bonaventure remains atop the conference, but four teams are still undefeated and one other (NDC) is unbeaten but has a tie. Split the conference into North and South and there remains much to play for. SBU and Mount St. Mary's are on top of the North and South, respectively.

Rugby East W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
St. Bonaventure 3 0 0 94 63 31 2 0 14
Navy 2 0 0 126 15 111 2 0 10
Mount St. Mary's 2 0 0 97 35 62 1 0 9
Army 1 1 1 61 44 17 2 0 8
Queens 1 1 0 52 99 -47 1 0 5
Life 1 0 0 40 21 19 1 0 5
Kutztown 0 3 0 52 115 -63 1 1 2
Notre Dame College 0 0 1 9 9 0 0 0 2
Penn State 0 2 0 6 26 -20 0 1 1
Southern Virginia 0 2 0 48 133 -85 0 0 0
Mary Washington 0 1 0 21 40 -19 0 0 0