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Towson Holds Off Salisbury

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Towson Holds Off Salisbury

Eric Sweeney put in an MVP performance for Towson. Colleen McCloskey photo.

On a cold, wet day #6-ranked DII college team Towson University pulled off something of an upset in beating #4 Salisbury to win the Capital Rugby Conference.

The game was not a pretty one, with rain making for a slick ball, and many knock-ons. But it had plenty of drama, with Towson mounting a long goal-line stand at the end of the game to come away 13-10 winners.

Towson scored all of their points in the first half. A muffed kick led to wing Greg Dreibelbis going in at the corner. Scrumhalf Eric Sweeney, who was the Goff Rugby Report Player of the Week for this past week, slotted the touchline conversion.

Towson got two penalties from Sweeney for a 13-0 lead.

“We generally don’t play well in the rain and we didn’t today,” said Salisbury Coach Bill Creese. “We needed to avoid making that extra pass or trying to push it wide too much, but we didn’t do that.”

Meanwhile, Towson’s defense was outstanding, led by a superb forward effort.

“Our defense was the main difference,” said Towson Coach Don Stone. “Salisbury came at us over and over and we held on.”

Stone praised Sweeney, who was a calming influence at scrumhalf.

“The whole game was really intense, and Eric just was so calm, in control,” said Stone.

In the second half, Salisbury tightened up their approach and props Elijah Hyman and Prince Etim Eyo were able to bull over. But no conversions, and Towson led 13-10.

With time almost up, Salisbury was right up against the Towson tryline. They got several chances to get the ball over, but Towson held firm, and eventually forced a knock-on, which ended the game.

“This was a hard-earned victory,” said Stone. “In my seven years of coaching this is the biggest win we’ve had. We’ve lost to them five years in a row in the championship game, so this was special.”

For his leadership and his goalkicking, Sweeney was named MVP of the game.

Both teams move on to the national playoffs, and both are nicely-positioned to go far. Towson will face the winner of a play-in between the NECRC #2 and the MARC #2, while Salisbury will play in a play-in against the Southern #2 and then on to face the winner of the Cardinals Conference.