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St. Bonaventure, Notre Dame College Return To Play

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St. Bonaventure, Notre Dame College Return To Play

Lineout time for Notre Dame College and St. Bonaventure. Alex Goff photo.

In the first competitive game for both teams, St. Bonaventure defeated Notre Dame College at NDC’s stadium 22-12 on Saturday.

Bonnies played a fairly adventurous style but weren’t able to make ground when working through phases in tight quarters. Meanwhile, NDC played some good periods of phase rugby and were solid in tight, but out wide struggled and poorly-timed errors scuttled their most promising attacking chances.

St. Bonaventure started with a clear intention of running the ball and had a tenacious Notre Dame College defense on its heels.

But the Falcons held firm, forcing a few errors right at the goal line, and being able to clear their lines on several occasions.

Eventually, however, the pressure finally told. Ironically it was from relatively far away. Pushed back near halfway, Bonnies inched back into the NDC half, got a penalty, and flyhalf Wesley Chiromo slotted the penalty goal from about 38 meters out.

After that, Bonnies finally got a try, but again it wasn’t from working the phases close in. NDC defended their line well, and then when they had the ball and were prepared to clear, that’s when it went wrong. Flanker and captain Colin Sustersic stretched over and blocked the Falcons’ clearance kick. The ball went straight down, and Sustersic fell on it for the first try of the match.

With the first half coming to a close, NDC started to work the ball from sideline to sideline and finally made some inroads into the Bonnies’ half. But they were too slow to support the ballcarrier at the breakdown and SBU got a penalty for holding on. From there they kicked for the lineout, spun the ball wide to the left win, and then sent it back to the right where center Cory Ratka set up Sustersic for a charge into the corner.

That made it 15-0 and that’s how the first half ended. For Notre Dame College it could have been much worse as they were close to giving up a try on several other occasions.

In the second half, NDC made several inroads into SBU territory, but it was St. Bonaventure that scored next. A penalty set them up and then SBU went wide to wing Lucas Weimar who finished it in the corner.

After that, Notre Dame College fixed some of their issues. Their ballhandling was better and they put SBU under more pressure. NDC busted through the SBU line and after a penalty freshman Cameron Mills went over. Jeff Mutuku converted and it was 22-7.

The Falcons came right back and camped out in the Bonaventure 22. It took them too long to score, but score they did, with Garrett O’Connell trundling over at the death.

It was a rough game in many ways for Notre Dame College, but they had been shut down from all activity for some days earlier this spring as the university kept an eye on the COVID risks. So training has been difficult to come by.

“It was really good of Tui and St. Bonaventure to come down,” said Jason Fox. “For a team with only a few practices I was very proud of how the team played, especially defensively.. We ran some good phase play and our goalline defense was pretty solid. I was happy with the physicality the guys brought. I think they were more structured but we were the more physical team.”

“It was good,” added Tui Osborne, the St. Bonaventure Head Coach. “We want to play an expansive game and we did some of that. We wanted to come away with more points but in the end we’re learning.”

“We’re big on animation,” said Ratka, who was the player of the game. “Moving the ball and getting out hands moving and making the defense really stick on us and then move it.”

The two teams hope to have a return engagement later this April.

St. Bonaventure 22
Tries: Sustersic 2, Weimar
Convs: Chiromo 2
Pens: Chiromo

Notre Dame College 12
Tries: Mills, O’Connell
Convs: Mutuku