LAFAYETTE, Colo. – St. Bonaventure withstood a second-half comeback by Buffalo to hold onto its Rugby East opener, 48-31.
The opening period saw both teams exchange offensive jabs equating to a narrow, five-point lead to the Bonnies thanks to some tough meters made by the forwards and the fancy footwork of Alex Alonso, who scored twice in the first 20 minutes. However, St. Bonaventure added a crucial try on the final play of the first half to go into the break with a 24-12 advantage.
The late strike proved pivotal when the Bulls opened the second half on the front foot. A try by prop William Burke and a second by flanker Maninderjit Singh put Buffalo ahead, 26-24, 12 minutes into the second period.
A pair of yellow cards slowed the visiting Bulls and flipped the momentum back into the arms of the Bonnies. Following a few tactical position swaps along the back line, Eamonn Matthews got beyond the Buffalo defense for two scores, and tight five forwards Alfonso De Falco and Kyle Ciquera each added their own to put St. Bonaventure up for good.
The 48 points scored by the Bonnies were a bit eye-opening after the team struggled offensively for most of last season.
“We made better decisions at the breakdown and carried the ball well from the 45th to 65th minute,” said St. Bonaventure Head Coach Tui Osborne.
The Bonnies will test themselves on the road next week when they visit Wheeling Jesuit Sept. 17. The Cardinals are coming off a solid, 30-14, win over Lindenwood-Belleville. Buffalo, meanwhile, hosts Binghamton University in nonconference action next weekend before picking its Rugby East schedule back up Sept. 24 at West Point.