Baylor can’t slow Oklahoma
Norman, Okla. – A team effort lead to the University of Oklahoma’s 50-17 win over Baylor in Division 1A Rugby’s Match of the Week.
Thought of as the team to beat in the Allied Rugby Conference this spring, Oklahoma may just be as tough as advertised based on its showing versus a young but talented Baylor team.
Oklahoma’s loose forward Ben Gilstrap scored the first of four tries that were all touched down within a 15-minute barrage midway through the first half. The scoring opportunities were mostly created from constant defensive pressure, something captain Michael Al-Jiboori says the Sooner’s coaching staff has been stressing.
“Our focus has been on defense alignment and structure,” said Al-Jiboori. “That’s been our emphasis in practice. We really wanted to put pressure on them the first forty minutes of the game and try to spread them out.”
That pressure lead to Al-Jiboori’s first try of the match. Baylor, already down 21-0, could not keep the ball clean and a hard-charging Al-Jiboori was able to collect a mishandled pass and trot down the field for an unconverted try.
Baylor was unable to sway the momentum their way to begin the second half, as Oklahoma’s Thomas Murphy scored within the first two minutes after the break. Murphy and Al-Jiboobri set up a nifty give-and-go along that sideline that ended with Murphy running hard onto a pop pass from Al-Jiboori as he was going to ground.
The Bears were able to put together some quality phases that enabled Pete Hamm, Marcus Appleyard and Cody Asbury to all find the try line for Baylor. However, Al-Jiboori had two tries of his own in the second half giving him a hat trick, and winger Robert Sandel added a try late in the match.
The Sooners were forced to move some players around due to a handful of injuries. The movement included Al-Jiboori going from center to flyhalf. His inexperience at the position did not show against Baylor, and it seems like Al-Jiboori enjoyed wearing the number 10, as well.
“I like being a distributor while also have in the ability to attack,” stated the junior.
As for Baylor, the Bears hope to even their D1A record this Saturday against Texas Tech, who has yet to step foot on the pitch following a week one rain-out and a win by forfeit from Sam Houston State Feb. 15.
Oklahoma travels to College Station to take on Texas A&M Feb. 22. The Sooners have not dropped a match to an ARC team dating back to the fall sevens season, and seem to be in their conference’s driver’s seat at the early stages of the 15s season.
“I’m really excited with the direction of our program and the overall moral of the team,” said Al-Jiboori. “We’re playing through injuries and starting to really come together.”