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Wild Ride in Rugby East as Bonnies, MSM Get Historic Wins

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Wild Ride in Rugby East as Bonnies, MSM Get Historic Wins

Mount St. Mary's has reason to celebrate. Nikki McGettigan photo.

Well it was pretty dramatic in Rugby East action Saturday with two nailbiters producing two historic results.

St. Bonaventure recorded their first ever win over the modern era over West Point, and Mount St. Mary's recorded their first ever win over Kutztown.

Bonnies ran out to an early lead in the first half. Army responded to lead 7-5 only to two more tries put St. Bonaventure ahead 15-7 at halftime. A converted try made it 22-7, but then they knew Army would mount a comeback.

"We had good control in the first half and we hoped to build on that in the second," said St. Bonaventure Head Coach Tui Osborne. "But Army's fitness caught up with us."

And yes Army caught them, scoring three tries in the space of 16 minutes, with the last one, from Mitchell Campbell, putting the Black Knights ahead 26-22. Back and forth they went and Bonnies was able to score a late try to retake the lead at 29-26. Army surged on and threatened the line, but flanker and captain Matthew Conroy was there to make the tackle and hold the ball up in-goal, which ended the game.

"We made some mistakes and gave them opportunities in the second half," said Osborne. But I am very proud of them. We wanted to manage 10 minutes at a time and not look up [at the score]. We did that for the most part."

St. Bonaventure prepared hard for this game and clearly felt that despite having six freshmen in the gameday 23, they had a shot at winning this game.

"We have good new talent but also the current guys have matured," said Osborne. "We had some belief going into this game and we knew it would take some discipline and some skill to get past the tough forward pack of Army."

Conroy was brilliant all day, making tackles, working the breakdown, and leading. He was the team's MVP on the day. 

Meanwhile, the team's kicking game was very good with the entire deep three of Wilson Koina, Matthew Joss, and especially Noah Edwards, played very well making and dealing with kicks. With a strong kick-chase Bonnies was able to play a successful terrotiral game.

"We have some things we need to improve on," said Osborne. "As we get to the later stages of the game we have to stay with the plan and we made some silly errors in our own half. But it was a very good day for St. Bonaventure Rugby."

Meanwhile, a late penalty goal saw Mount St. Mary's overhaul Kutztown 16-15.

"I don't think they realize how old I am," joked MSM Head Coach Jay Myles on the tense nature of the game.

the game itself was played as the front end of Tropical Storm Ophelia moved into the region. So it was very wet and very windy. That made kicking for goal a bit of a crap shoot and ball retention at a premium.

Kutztown opened the scoring three minutes in with a try. The Mount responded with a penalty from Evan Corbett and the game stayed 5-3 KU until the final 10 minutes of the first half when Kutztown scored their second to lead 10-3.

Moments into the second half Mount St. Mary's got a crucial try with Xavier Lock going over to make it 10-8. Kutztown responded about eight minutes later and the Bears led 15-8. But the Mount kept coming and Corbett cross over to bring his side within two at 15-13. The game was back-and-forth at that point but the conditions made it very difficult to get a breakaway or try for goal from long range.

Finally, with only three minutes left MSM got a penalty and Bastian Brunello put the game-winner over.

Leading the way for Mount St. Mary's was probably prop Seamus McGroarty. A relatively small prop who has spent a long time trying to break into the 1st side, the senior was hugely influential in this game. He broke the gainline repeatedly, making four or five meters after contact almost every carry, and he did well to keep and recycle the ball, as well.

"Kutztown is an amazing program and their attack is amazing so we needed to retain possession," said Myles.

Finn O'Leary came off the bench to bring a spark but also settle things down as the circumstances of the game and the conditions made things a little wild. But overall MSM didn't make too many changes.

"I felt like, you know, they got themselves in this so let's see if they can get themselves out," said Myles. "It was a true gut-check for them and it was something really special to see them overcome challenging circumstances."

With UMW vs Southern Virginia postponed because of Ophelia, and Navy's 71-0 win over Queens, Navy is 1-0 while Bonnies now improves to 2-0.  Life vs Navy October 7 and St. Boanventure vs Navy October 14 now loomer ever larger.