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Whitewater Impresses in National Semi

College Men

Whitewater Impresses in National Semi

GRR #1 Minnesota-Duluth will take on GRR #2 Wisconsin-Whitewater in the finals of the men’s DII college championships Sunday after both won semifinals on Saturday at Furman University.

Whitewater defeated Towson 53-22 in a game that was much more competitive than the score might suggest, but also a game where Whitewater’s finishing was far superior than Towsons.

Duluth weathered a tough first half against Salisbury to clamp down defensively in the second period and win 30-18.

Whitewater wanted to work the ball wide and did so, testing Towson on the left wing twice. In the first foray, hooker Greg Shibilski showed a nice turn of pace as he scampered around the edge to go in at the corner. A minute later, wing Alec Treuthardt blazed in for a second try. Scrumhalf Tim Grams hit both conversions for a commanding 14-0 lead. More Whitewater pressure produced a penalty, which Grams slotted, and after 15 minutes it was 17-0.

But things changed after that. Towson was able to get the ball, and with Nick Dipietro winning lineout ball and John Schubeth and Brian and Tim Shields making some ground in the backs, they camped out in the Whitewater 22 for much of the second 20 minutes.

But points were hard to come by. Twice Towson get a lineout five meters from the Whitewater line - thanks in large part to scrumhalf Eric Sweeney’s spot-on kicks - and twice they made mistakes.

Whitewater weathered the onslaught and gave up just one Sweeney penalty to approach halftime up 17-3.

And then, just before the break, the powerful running of Robby Sindic and Eric Pachowitz put Whitewater in Towson territory, and then flyhalf Jack Healy set up Sindic with a short flat pass and the center powered through for a try.

Up 24-3 at halftime, Whitewater added a Grams penalty before Towson finally found paydirt - hooker Jason Larian backed up a loose ball from a lineout and dove through. Sweeney’s excellent kick from the touchline made it 27-10, but there was always too much to do. Shibilski showed great pace and awareness to chase down a Sindic kick ahead to make it 32-10. Towson showed their best sequence after that, using their inside backs to make ground, and their forwards to consolidate before finally sending it wide to wing Greg Dreibelbis for the try.

Whitewater’s ability to strike quickly finished the game off, though. Sindic scored what was a carbon copy of his previous try to make, and Conor Bell finished it off.

“It just came down to execution,” said Towson’s Sweeney. “We competed with them, but we needed to execute. I would love to play them again.”

That long period of possession and territory without points was a crucial part of the game, added Towson No. 8 Rick DiPietro.

“It was definitely a struggle for us, but they are one of the best defensive team’s we’ve played,” said DiPietro. “We had some little miscommunications in the lineouts, too.”

“Scoring quickly is what we wanted, that’s kind of our game plan,” said Packowitz. “We were fortunate it worked out for us.

Shibilski had a strong game, doing the job as hooker but also slotting in as a center and showing more pace than many wings.

“It was awesome; I haven’t been playing long so I have been able to adapt to different positions, and the guys have helped me,” said the hooker, who just started playing rugby last year.

For Packowitz, it was his team’s best performance of the year.

“We had some lapses and lulls, but a good team is able to power through that and that’s what we were able to do.”

 

For Duluth v Salisbury - see here.