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Vienna Pushes Fort Hunt in Virginia

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Vienna Pushes Fort Hunt in Virginia

Fort Hunt powered through, but the final 25 minutes belonged to Vienna. David Hughes photo.

Fort Hunt held off Vienna 33-26 in a somewhat surprisingly close game in Rugby Virginia.

Fort Hunt ran out to a 21-0 lead before Vienna finally scored. Even then Fort Hunt replied and led 28-5 at halftime.

But Vienna made a few adjustments, and Fort Hunt suddenly were under pressure.

The game was played in the middle of a USA Rugby player identification camp, and several players from both sides participated in the camp before and after the game. 

"It was a great day of rugby," said Fort Hunt Head Coach Dale Roach. 

Vienna Head Coach Kendall Erickson said his team was a little too timid early on, saying the players were "a little taken aback by the Fort Hunt size and reputation. Half of our Vienna Varsity players were sophomores."

Fort Hunt scored a converted try in the first minute and soon thereafter Vienna had a scoring chance and knock on. It was one of a series of unforced errors by Vienna on the day.

"Fort Hunt's forward pack is enormous, very physical and very athletic," added Erickson. "They are bigger than many college packs. I warned our team repeatedly that if we engaged in a battle of machismo one-v-one, we would get rolled. The Vienna boys chose to learn the hard way and they crashed and tried to crack the indomitable wall of Fort Hunt forwards rather than pass out wide and let their skilled VIenna backline attack open spaces."

Missing touch on penalty kicks didn't help and Vienna ended up defending much of the first half.

In the second half, Vienna started to use the ball out wide and the tries started to come.

When Vienna gets outside you’ve got trouble

"When Fort Hunt is playing well we get on the front foot and we are playing our rugby, we are very hard to stop," said Roach. "Our defense was good, we stayed spread, and we tackled well. But when Vienna gets their offloads working and gets to the edge, they are dangerous."

And so it went. Vienna bucked up and played more team rugby. Sophomore wing Owen Lebkisher and sophomore hooker David Kendig ramped up the tackling. Flanker Dylan Liskey took a quick tap and raced 20 meters through and around several Fort Hunt players for the first Vienna try.

At halftime, Erickson exhorted his players to recycle more quickly and spin it wide to the fast Vienna outside backs. Still, Fort Hunt scored early in the Fort Hunt, and then with 20 minutes to go they started to find their rhythm.  Fort Hunt got a couple of yellow cards and penalty trouble was a hallmark of their second half.

Flyhalf Graeme Ebert started to move it wide more quickly and Tomas Edmeades sliced through for 50 meters. Scrumhalf Camden Erickson sparked a counterattack that ended when Liskey weaved his way 65 meters for another try. Suddenly it was 33-19. Vienna once again attacked through a combination of forwards and backs play and then No. 8 Christos Kalpaxis broke through for the fourth Vienna try.

But Vienna couldn't, or wouldn't, find the edge for one more shot and played a relatively conservative final few minutes. Fort Hunt held on, and some of their players learned a lesson in how easy it is to let an opponent come back in the game.