BOULDER, Colo. – Week 16 brought the D1A season to its midway point, and squads from each conference have begun to identify themselves as playoff caliber teams based on their performances on the pitch.
Two teams that could very well make some noise in the playoffs this spring but were winless going into Saturday were Lindenwood and Army. Lindenwood has been playing impressive rugby, but Life and Arkansas State, the second and third ranked teams respectively, kept the Lions from earning a win in its first two matches. The cadets of West Point returned to the pitch Saturday and showed no signs rust in its win over Texas.
Lindenwood 27-16 Davenport
Navigating through its first season in D1A’s Mid-South, Lindenwood figured to take a few lumps along the way, especially when the team lost star fullback Morgan Finley for the year. However, the Lions showed loads of promise by giving both Life and Arkansas State all they could handle in losing efforts to open the season.
Davenport entered Saturday’s match in a similar state as Lindenwood. The Panthers were also looking for its first Mid-South win on Saturday after Arkansas State mustered ten points in the final nine minutes to steal the match just a week earlier. Furthermore, Davenport lost its best player, JP Eloff, to a season-ending injury as well.
Needless to say, both Lindenwood and Davenport were thirsty for a victory.
The Lions took the early lead when Sione Fangaiuiha scored an unconverted try. Davenport quickly countered with back-to-back penalty kicks from Brady Gent to go up 6-5.
The makings of a back-and-forth affair were squashed by Lindenwood who put the next 22 points on the board including tries from Jeremy Leber, Tamatasi Paogofie-Buyten and Sebastian Kalm.
“It’s a testament to our boys,” said Head Coach JD Stephenson. “They’ve been hungry for a win, and they come to training everyday ready to work.”
To Davenport’s credit, the Panthers fought hard until the final whistle and scored the last 10 points of the match.
This week Lindenwood prepares for a match against Men’s Division I Club Chicago Lions. Lindenwood is likely to rest a few keys starters for the friendly, but will surely be playing for a victory. Davenport get its first crack at Life University on March 22.
Arkansas State 19-23 New Orleans RFC
Arkansas State traveled to the Big Easy for a friendly versus top tier Division I Club New Orleans RFC. The Red Wolves traveled 28 players for the match, with each player gaining valuable minutes on the pitch.
Saint Mary’s 97-7 UC Santa Barbara
In a match that was predicted to be one-sided, Saint Mary’s rolled to a 90-point win over UC Santa Barbara. Joey Reavy was successful in moving over from his usual scrumhalf position to fill in for Garrett Brewer at flyhalf. Brewer missed the match due to his participation at the recent domestic Men’s Eagles Camp in Atlanta, Ga. Mason Colombo scored five tries for the Gaels in his return from a injury suffered during the fall season.
Wisconsin 6-5 Oklahoma
In a nonconference match featuring the Big Ten’s Wisconsin and the Allied Rugby Conference’s Oklahoma, the Badgers left Norman, Okla. with a one-point win. The match was largely dictated by weather conditions which including gusting winds and sub-30 degree temperatures.
Army 41-5 Texas
West Point’s return to the rugby pitch was a successful one. Army scored early and often against the Texas Longhorns, including tries from winger Logan Pearce and fullback TJ Rowe. The match against Texas was the first leg of a three-match tour of Texas. The road trip continues Tuesday when Army plays Baylor, followed by a clash with Texas A&M on Thursday.
Colorado 29-25 Colorado State
For a second consecutive week, Colorado scored a late try to win a West Conference match. The Buff’s win moves the team to 2-0, while Colorado State falls to 0-2. More on this match to come from D1ARugby.com.
Wheeling Jesuit vs. West Virginia postponed due to weather.