Wednesday, February 16, 2011

close first win sets up promising 2011 spring season

This last Saturday, the men of Guilford Rugby faced off against a hard-running team from Davidson College, on our home pitch.

From kick-off the game proceeded quickly, with Guilford putting together several phases in a row and marching down the pitch to well inside their twenty-two. The Davidson defense held however and a Guilford penalty gave Davidson the ball back without any points on the board. The first half was a back and forth battle. Guilford was given the advantage over Davidson through great scrummaging overall country, overall mean forward play. Our mindset going into the match was that of tight defense. This was especially necessary around the breakdown, as these were the channels in which they attacked the hardest during our last bout. Davidson won the previous match 28-0 and Guilford came hoping for vengeance. Sure to the game plan, Davidson came in attacking mainly in pods consisting of forwards, and Guilford withstood the pressure, only being inside our 22 meter line a few times in the first half.

On the offensive side, there were missed opportunities to attack the ball out wide, with Matt Hayes making his first start at fly-half. The centers, Randall Aldana (inside) and Sean McNally (outside) made excellent runs and drove the defense back on nearly every run and while we held good possession throughout the first half nothing came to fruition, leaving both teams at 0 by the end of the first forty minutes.

Guilford sustained a key injury with starting scrummy "Baby" Nick Forman being sidelined with an injury around halfway through the first half. Baby Nick wouldn't make a re-appearance and was taken to the hospital, where was diagnosed with back spasms. Nick is listed as questionable for the upcoming game this Saturday against West Carolina University. "Blonde" Tom Clement, who forms the Guilford scrum-half committee, came in from Wing and played a solid game throughout.

At halftime Guilford was hungry, and we knew that it was our game to win. After a good pep talk we came out in the second half determined to put points on the board quickly. Finally our prayers were answered when rookie flanker Randy Perry made an excellent play, surging through their line and grounding the ball inside their try zone. Sophomore Aaron Craig slotted the conversion and Guilford went up 7-0. Quickly afterwards Davidson had possession of the ball, and through several penalties had gotten to within our 22. Their back-line, which had showed little promise throughout the first half, made a series of quick passes to the wing, and in a race to the try line barely beat out our chasing back three, to the dismay of our team and supporters. Luckily enough, their kicker grubbed the ball on the conversion and Guilford stayed ahead by two points.

The second half was slightly less sloppy than the first, but both teams had their fair share of penalties. The forwards played up to their first half level, anchored by seniors David Watters at prop and Kevin Cumberland at 8-man. It was because of our forwards, and top-shelf running from the backs as well that Guilford was once again on their doorstep. About halfway through the second-half, directly on a scrummage Sean McNally moved to the fly half for one play, running to the weak side and getting within five meters of the try line. We stayed at this position, moving across the face of the goal before a Davidson penalty and corresponding quick tap try by "Burrito" McNally gave Guilford some breathing room at 12-5.

From then on out it was a game of possession, with Guilford making some mental errors that moved Davidson down the field once more into the Guilford half. As time was running out Davidson once again brought the ball out wide in a run mirroring their first try, but their wing's foot found touch and after a few minutes of debate caused the head referee to rule a line-out. The Davidson coach was raging and caused their to be a penalty to Guilford just as time expired, and after a kick to touch their were cheers from the Guilford side that signaled a victory...

It was a good first win, and many thanks to the fans and everyone who came out to the game and helped make it happen. Look for a blog coming up in about a week after our away game Saturday February 19 against WCU! Thanks for reading....

Guilford 12 - Davidson 5

Just as a public service announcement: There are no alcoholic beverages permitted on the sidelines, parking lot or playing field of the Rugby Pitch. Any individual found with such items may be ejected from the match and subject to school-legal sanctions. The Guilford Rugby team would like to ask that all of our fans follow in accordance with all school, local, state, and federal regulations, and please keep coming out to our games!