Guilford traveled to the North Carolina tournament this weekend, hosted in nearby Danville, Virginia. With teams like UNC, NC State, ECU, Wake Forest, Elon, and Appalachian State in attendance, there was not even the possibility of an easy match. In their first game on Saturday, Guilford was pitted against Division 2 powerhouse East Carolina University.
Both teams took the field and ECU immediately began pressuring with their advantageous size and athleticism. Call it morning rust, nerves at playing much higher-level competition, or whatever you like; Guilford just could not get the ball rolling, or even really get the ball, in the first half. ECU effectively kicked to the back three and rucked ferociously all half, scoring many unanswered points. However, Guilford did once again bring impressive conditioning to pitch, which has this fall season all but eliminated the need for substitutions due to fatigue, be it in a single match or tournament setting. ECU made some substitutions at the half and began to slow down. Finally finding some holes in a very solid team with a history of running up the score against opposition when possible, Guilford managed to keep their intensity and be much more competitive in the second half, scoring 15 points and corralling the Pirate offense to a much larger degree. A final score of 30-15 to the classy ECU side was encouraging, if anything, to a still young and developing Guilford Rugby.
Later in the same day Guilford clashed heads with Elon University for the second time this fall. Boasting a come-from-behind 18-14 victory at Elon in the rain some weeks previous, Guilford looked to prove that the win was no fluke. Throughout the game, however, this eagerness proved to hinder Guilford as the maroon and white ruggers racked up sloppy penalties, giving Elon more ball than was necessary and falling behind 12-5 relatively early on. More focus in the second half and great performances from rookie players made the game interesting, as Guilford rallied to even the score at 12-12. Another penalty reared its head, this time too close to the uprights, and a well-placed Elon kick put them up again and secured the ball back in Phoenix hands. With time dwindling, it appeared Guilford could not find a weakness to exploit, but very nice kicking for touch landed the boys deep in Elon territory for the final minutes. A thundering run from sophomore flanker Andrew Slater resulted in a clear try, to the elation of Guilford's visiting crowd, but was controversially overturned when the referee decided he had gotten in someones way. Heartbreak quickly turned to one extra minute of resolve, and Guilford fought viciously for the last inch, resulting in a repeated effort that could not be denied. Time expired almost directly after, leaving the score 19-15 to Guilford College. With the second hard-fought victory in as many games over Elon, 2008 USA Rugby South Semifinalists, Guilford Rugby proved that when they come to play, they are one of the best small college rugby squads in the Southeast.
Sunday morning saw a different team arrive to play a very tough Division 2 Appalachian State side. Fly-half David McKindley-Ward injured his elbow the day before and could not play. Scrum-half Max Kochinke took too many hard hits the day before, and Flanker Andrew Mancuso severely damaged his shoulder. Backs captain Chris Pugliese was forced to play with an injury that reaggravated itself immediately. To boot, whether from Saturday's festivities or Sunday obligations, so few players showed up that Guilford could only manage 17 versus App. in a game that would see more than half of those left playing out of position. Eight-man Matt Elverson played at Scrum-half, while flanker Andrew Slater took over #8. This left both flanking spots open to be filled by rookie lock Byron Myers and an injured but game Grayson Lyles. Winger Cody Martin took over at fly-half, with prop Abel Montes de Oca occupying the inside center slot. Regular #12 Evan Flanders moved position to the outside, completing the makeshift 9 to 13 chain that left running plays out of the question. Despite the disarray, Guilford should have managed something against the AHO team, but could not. There was no chemistry between the players, and a hard-rucking AHO pack dominated the loose ball almost completely. The very skilled Appalachian flyhalf kicked to his own team and to himself all game long, and the black-and-gold back line played tight defense while using uncommon speed to touch down points repeatedly. We would like to have given App. a game, but they took this one 29-0.
In all, Guilford Rugby took away a heavy amount of experience playing excellent opposition. The team improved greatly and learned a great deal about dedication on and off the field. The losses were perhaps good for the team, and showed a lot that can be worked on the rest of the season.
Match Report by Coach Hunter
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Guilford Rugby Dismantles UNCC 49ers
Guilford-36 UNCC-10The Guilford College Rugby Club played host this past Saturday to a familiar foe, the UNC-Charlotte 49ers, on what turned out to be a stellar sunny afternoon. UNCC was originally scheduled to travel to Guilford earlier in the season, but the game was unable to be hosted due to the administration's concerns for the fields during a tropical storm. Since then, Charlotte seemed to have picked up momentum, notching victories over a revived UNCG team and Duke University.
The match was intense from the kickoff. Charlotte fought hard, but were unable to keep pace with the young "A/B" Guilford side, made up as always of experienced leaders and very game rookies. Since late August the Guilford players have been putting up with a very physically demanding practice schedule which has paid great dividends. Put quite simply, the boys don't slack.Charlotte came out to hit, as it was indeed a Saturday, and gave Guilford perhaps their most physical match short of Triad Rugby. However, accurate kicking, great communication, quick hands, and another great performance by a solid, gritty pack had Charlotte on their heels most of the entire game. An unfortunately whimsical referee apparently forgot his warnings, advantages, and yellow cards at home, but did not fail to red card senior Guilford scrum-half Max Kochinke for aggressive footing in the ruck with no prior address. A Charlotte back was also red-carded, perhaps questionably. An extraordinary amount of knocks, off-sides, and dangerous tackles were let go for both teams, causing the game to feel more like a continuous brawl at times. Guilford maintained composure and organization, however, and left no doubt in a clear and telling 36-10 victory.
Last week's heroes performed expectedly well, with the entire front row of Watters, Smithey, and Montes de Oca putting in serious work and impressive crash ball against the much larger Charlotte team. Both the flankers Andrew owned tries on the day, an impressive Matt Elverson managed to play both #8 and #9 for twenty minutes of the game, and a rejuvenated Will Dawson used his shoulder as a battering ram to great effect throughout the first half. Every back-line player shined, all showing great offensive flair and chase, and repeatedly stopping an intimidating Mean Green line-up. The game was epitomized as senior winger Cody Martin efficiently laid out a hard-charging opponent nearly twice his weight on the try-line, pushing the play out of bounds and winning the ball back for his team. Guilford Rugby will now enjoy a much deserved rest after starting their fall season with five wins and no defeats.
Match Report By Coach Hunter
Photo Credit: Megan Slater
Guilford RFC posted a 36-10 victory over UNC-Charlotte this Saturday. The Quakers will enter their week long fall break, and two weekend hiatus from play, undefeated with a record of 5-0. Guilford hopes to continue their success on Oct. 25 at the NCRU State Tournament.