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Match Report for

Southern Connecticut State University (1st) vs. (1st)
12 November 2016

Location: No location provided

Southern Connecticut State University: 31    : 29

What a great match! York fielded a mighty mass of big bodies. After the first half, anyone who had watched the teams warm up would have said "I told you so", with York's thick forward bodies setting up and finishing three powerful tries, to which Southern had no answer. Southern's fullback putting three clearing kicks out on the full helped York keep the pressure on. Many teams facing a 17-0 halftime deficit might look to find excuses: our captain isn't playing due to injury; these guys are bigger; it isn't our day...

Southern chose instead to find solutions. They finally managed to turn a forwards battle--which they were losing--into a passing/kicking/open space game. Sparked by their talented #10, who stirred the kick-pass-run ingredients into a potent brew, Southern moved the game into space, both wide and deep, allowing their #13 (a non-factor in the first half) to change the game with his devastating running and finishing. Southern opened the second half with a two try surge before York responded with a damaging run down the SCSU 5 meter channel which resulted in Southern's #12 in the bin and a penalty try (converted).

At this point, York was ahead 24-12, seemingly having survived Southern's post halftime talk ("is this how we want to end our season?" etc.)-induced adrenaline wave. But the crafty Connecticut #10 created a challenging situation for the Pennsylvania men by chipping and chasing well into York's 22. The York #6 changed his line to obstruct Southern's fly-half, which sent him to the bin (no penalty try was warranted due to numerous York defenders in the area) and allowed Southern to establish camp in scoring territory. Yeah, they eventually got a try out of it.

So at 24-19, we have a pretty compelling match. To both sides' credit, the final 20+ minutes saw lots of rugby, few penalties, and a great deal of skill and discipline. York scored once more, and the conversion bounced back off the upright, but Southern put in two more tries, with the second one, scored by #13 under the posts (29-29 at this point) converted to give Southern the first lead of the day. The Owls held on, absorbing everything York threw at them in the final minutes and earning one of the most thrilling victories in these players' experience, I would guess.

York was understandably disappointed, but Southern prevailed from a combination of factors: their smaller forwards tackled everything they saw; they found a way to get #13 involved in the offense; their #10 never lost composure and exhibited the skill and confidence one needs in a fly-half; and, it must be noted, Southern's #9 Noah, captain on the day in place of the injured #8 Mike, increased the tempo of the game with quick tap penalties, putting York in the back foot, and his go-forward attitude. Southern passed the gut check test today against a bigger side. Great credit goes to both teams for a fine rugby performance.

Referee: Mark Stepsis