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Torrid Final 15 Sees Arkansas State Past Davenport

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Torrid Final 15 Sees Arkansas State Past Davenport

Arkansas State players congratulate Timothy Glatthaar after he scores. Photo from The Rugby Network coverage.

Three tries in the space of the final 12 minutes turned a close-run game into a comprehensive victory as Arkansas State ran away from Davenport 38-8 Saturday.

In a game shown on The Rugby Network as one of the Games of the Week>>

Davenport came in carrying a few injuries and with several freshmen in the gameday 23. It all started horribly for the Panthers as an errant pass after a kick allowed the Red Wolves to come swarming in to Regain possession and pressure the Davenport line. Somehow Davenport won the ball back, but their attempted box kick to clear was blocked by Arkansas State hooker Tiaan Ingram, who followed the ball and dove on it.

Flyhalf Warrick Day converted from the touchline and Arkansas State led 7-0.

Determined to play wide ASU found an equally determined Davenport defense that kept them in check. Davenport, for their part, used front-rowers Ethan Howard and Maris Kurti to challenge the gainline. Flanker Tamuka Kambani was active all over, while lock Takunda Makiwa was a major target in their lineout.

Repeatedly Davenport was able to do enough to put ASU’s defense under pressure and the Red Wolves were guilty on several occasions of offside, not rolling away, or high tackles. 

In the first half, this resulted in at least five lineouts or scrums less than 10 meters from the Arkansas State tryline. But they were halted. A variety of lineout options were barely stymied, and through most of the half Davenport was held scoreless.

Meanwhile, ASU opted for posts on penalties twice, with Day nailing one to make it 10-0.

Then late in the first half Davenport got another lineout deep in the ASU end. They won the lineout and drove to the line. Down the maul went but Makiwa was still standing … with the ball in his hand. He simply stepped over the line and touched it down. The half ended 10-5.

Once again the half began with an Arkansas State try. In the opening moments ASU fullback James Beauclerc cut through on the right-hand side, popped a chip kick, regathered it, and then fed No. 8 Aarn Van Dyk who was charging on in support. Van Dyk was over and, after Day’s conversion, it was 17-5.

The game remained at 17-5 for quite some time. ASU got many hard carries from flanker Carbyn Harrison, and when he was subbed off Kaden Collons was almost as punishing. For Davenport No. 8 Colin Turner and flanker Joseph Portillo got plenty of work done.

But Davenport’s inability to convert when close to the ASU line continued to frustrate. Later Head Coach Dustin Steedman chalked that up to youthful impatience and inexperience, and it’s true that against Lindenwood and Arkansas State the Panthers have not a high conversion rate when getting into the 22.

Orlando Casey slotted a penalty late in the second half when the tries weren’t forthcoming, but, strangely, that opened up the floodgates. Arkansas State’s attempts to keep the ball alive and stretch the Davenport defense finally started to pay off.

Off the restart Davenport couldn’t catch the ball and ASU had it. A couple of phases and the ball was sent wide where hard-running center Brayden Wilson fed his midfield partner Timothy Glatthaar. With the defenders swarming in Glatthaar fended off two and shouldered away another as he charged down the sideline and curved in for a try. Day converted.

Pinned back in their 22 Davenport won a scrum but lost the ball in the backs. Quickly the Red Wolves shipped the ball wide where Beauclerc, who had seen the turnover and raced across the field in anticipation, received a pass from Ned Madden and scored in the corner. The key pass was probably that of Wilson, who spun a long one to Madden to outflank the Davenport backs. Day converted again.

Arkansas State capped it off with a bullocking run from Kudza Maringa up the middle. Day converted that one, too.

Overall the Arkansas State team showcased some exciting, fast rugby. When they put the pieces together, they were enormously difficult to stop.

For Davenport, the pieces weren’t quite put together. They had good performances, and their set piece was very strong, but their injuries undercut their unity. So while ASU Head Coach Dominick Shaw was happy to see his team play the way they did, especially in the final 15, Steedman was happy to see the tenacity and hard work his young players showed in the first 65.