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This past weekend the Missouri S&T Rugby Club competed in the Sweet 16 and Quarterfinals of the D2 Collegiate Men’s National Championships.
Our first match was against a tough Montana State squad. We started out making a few mistakes and spent the first 35 minutes of the half just playing defense. Montana State was able to capitalize off a penalty with a kick to put them up 3-0 early in the game. After the conversion they were marching down again, but our defense was solid and we were able to prevent them from scoring any points. In the last 5 minutes of the half we were able to get some momentum and play on their side of the field and finish the half with a try by Dylan Moorman to put us up 5-3 in the closing seconds of the first half. Going into the second half we had a lot of momentum and really started to kick it into gear. Our forwards really started to put a beating on them and we ran away with it with additional trys from Clayton Daniels, Logan Gallagher, Nate Page, and Jack Lester as well as a penalty kick from Moorman. That allowed us to come out on top 34-3 and put us into the quarterfinals match on Sunday.
Our second match of the weekend was against Illinois State who was the Great Midwest Conference Champion which is arguably the toughest conference in D2 rugby. This game was similar to the first but a lot more close and physical. Illinois State started out very strong with a try in the first 4 minutes to put them up 5-0. The remainder of the half was a defensive brawl for us just trying to keep them out of our try zone and hitting them as hard as we could. The score at the end of the half remained 5-0. Going into the second half we received the ball and unfortunately knocked it on which led to a Illinois State scrum which they were able to score off of in the first minute of the half to make the score 10-0. After that we knew we were going to have to step it up and take control of the ball. We just kept pounding it and pounding it waiting to capitalize on one of their mistakes. Fortunately there was a penalty against Illinois State and Dylan Moorman took the penalty kick to make the score 10-3 with a 34 minutes remaining. We got the ball back and kept doing the same thing pounding it with our forwards and getting it to our back line where Illinois State made another penalty to allow Moorman to convert another PK changing the score to 10-6 with 16 minutes to go. We had the momentum working for us and we knew we were going to need a try to win this game. Again we were able to slowly move the ball forward and got 5 meters out where we saw an overload on the short side and we got the ball out quick and were able to score a try and take the lead 10-11 with 8 minutes to go. A conversion kick from Moorman put the score at 10-13 Miners. After that we had to control the ball and not make any mistakes because we knew they were going to come at us with everything they had. Illinois State regained possession and started moving down the field and in the closing seconds they knock the ball on at the try line giving the Miner Rugby the victory and sending us to the Final Four.
This weekend was the best defense we have had and I think our backs are to thank for that. They were going up against some high caliber guys but they didn’t nudge at all. They just kept hitting them and hitting them until the other team couldn’t take it any more. Accompany that with our forwards pounding it on offense and some great kicks from Dylan Moorman and that is why we were able to come out of the weekend winning.
We will be going to Charlotte, NC December 7th and 8th to try and become national champions. We will be playing Wisconsin-Whitewater in the semis for our first game.