Dec 03, 2017
The University of Mary Washington men's rugby team overcame a lull near intermission to storm back to win the USA Rugby Fall national championship in the 1AA Division, stopping St. Joseph's University by a score of 37-13.
UMW started the game strong, knocking on the door and kept St Joe's in their own end. To their credit St Joe's held and kicked clear or either caused UMW to knock on. UMW also was feeling out St Joe's backline and just missing on some long passes. St Joe's got on the board first with a penalty to go up 3-0 at the 10 min mark. UMW's fullback Bradlee Nicholls countered in the corner at 13:00 with a well worked try. Tom Williams missed the conversion at a very tough angle. St Joe's kept working their phases and UMW kept either committing penalties or simply not linking well in broken play - much due to the Hawks defensive line. St Joe's also did well on lineouts in the first half. St Joe's kept pushing and their prop scored a try that was converted at the 27th minute and their 12 made a nice drop goal at the 37th minute.
Halftime saw St Joe's up 13-5. This was the first time UMW had been down at halftime since October of last year and by far their lowest halftime total this year. The tackling and many phases did appear to be wearing on St Joe's.
Coach Min Chae kept halftime calm and basically implored the team to keep it simple and work their phases. UMW came out very fast in the 2nd half. At the 46th minute hooker Tom Williams scored a nice try, which he converted to complement the increased intensity of the forwards. A couple minutes later Williams kicked a penalty and St Joe's, while only down 15-13, started to have to backtrack and backpedal in loose play more and more each series. Terence McPhillips IV and Daniel Northwood did very well in the entire game keeping St Joe's' centers contained.
At the 60 minute mark, wing Nathan Neri scored a try in the corner that was well-earned by the UMW backs. UMW's defense, in particular #10 Michael Sacks and #8 Matthew Gordon, both weighing over 230lbs, began to wear on St Joe's runners in general - holding them up numerous times.
At the 69:00 mark UMW scored a try by Neri that was converted by Tom Williams. You can view video of the play here: https://www.facebook.com/usarugby/videos/10155981072053140/
At this point UMW began to stretch the field, kicking into space. Michael Sacks almost scored chasing down a kick from Williams and scrumhalf Harry Masters started finding gaps and kicking off the base of the breakdown as St Joe's pushed for turnovers. Tom Williams kicked a penalty in the 74th minute and Matthew Gordon bulled over for a unconverted try at the end of the game.
Locks Phillip Harrison and Lewis Grant were cited for standout play, as were flankers Tucker Chewning and Jack Levine.
Man of the Match was Captain Matthew Gordon but it could have been wing Neri, hooker Williams or #9 Harry Masters.