BOULDER, Colo. – This weekend in Rugby East play, newly-ranked Iona will test itself against No. 7 Kutztown, and three teams will have an opportunity to earn their first conference wins of the season. Also, No. 10 Wheeling Jesuit will look to get back in the win column after consecutive defeats to Canterbury D1A top-10 schools.
No. 8 Penn State vs. Buffalo
The Nittany Lions hung tough against No. 5 Army for 80 minutes before falling, 46-36, last week. The 10-point defeat in front of its home fans had to be a bit disappointing, bit it would be a real shocker if new head coach Blake Burdette didn’t have Penn State ready to play tomorrow against Buffalo.
In three Rugby East matches this season, the Bulls have yet to put any points on the scoreboard. It would be an enormous relief and confidence boost if Buffalo can come away with points early in the contest.
The Nittany Lions will play their second consecutive match at the West Campus Fields on the Penn State campus, with the match scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. ET.
St. Bonaventure vs. No. 10 Wheeling Jesuit
After scoring a solid, 37-19, win over Iona, the Cardinals have dropped back-to-back games against highly thought of opponents. Wheeling Jesuit has showed well in defeat to both Army and Penn State, so its place in the D1A rankings hasn’t suffered a whole lot.
The Bonnies have been dealing with a case of Jekyll and Hyde this season. At 0-4, St. Bonaventure did not make things easy to elite East teams like Kutztown and Penn State, but weren’t at its best in losses to Army and Iona.
Last week, the Bonnies refused to be pushed around by a physically-imposing Kutztown squad. They’ll need to be equally resilient against a Cardinal team seeking its first win since Sept 12.
No. 20 Iona vs. No. 7 Kutztown
Iona’s three-match winning streak has come with an impressive plus-107 point differential, but was also earned against three teams that have combined for zero wins. Kutztown will provide the Gaels with their stiffest test so far this season, which should be kindly welcomed after Iona thumped West Virginia, 55-0.
St. Bonaventure showed impressive determination holding Kutztown scoreless in the second half last week. The Golden Bears, a team with an impressive attack capable of scoring tries in bunches, will be fired up to play some running rugby this weekend.
Iona doesn’t need to upset Kutztown to vindicate its newly-minted place in the D1A Top 20, but a win might be the biggest in the program’s history. The match between the Gaels and Golden Bears has been moved to Sunday, and will kick off at noon ET.
West Virginia vs. No. 4 Army
Losing nine starters to graduation last spring has made the start of West Virginia’s inaugural season in Rugby East less than stellar. After allowing 79 points to Penn State, Iona dropped 55 on the Mountaineers last week. West Virginia will have to conjure up some defensive integrity in order to slow down the No. 4 team in the country.
The past two weeks have seen West Point storm past two top-10 sides. Staring at a winless team following two massive wins might produce a lackluster performance for some teams, but don’t anticipate that happening to the Black Knights. Army’s discipline is nearly unmatched, so expect the Brothers to approach the game the same way they’ll be preparing for Oct. 24’s Rugby East showdown against Kutztown.