The Memphis Tigers win their first outing of the 2016-2017 season in a friendly against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville, MS. The final score of 29-14 did not reflect the total domination by the Tigers in all aspects of the game. All Tigers got time in the match, including an impressive crop of freshmen who demonstrated that they were ready to play Tiger Rugby.
Scoring began early in the first half when the Tigers perfectly executed a play that sprung Alec Sisco for a 30 yard run before he dished off to Tezman Mosley who finished the try. Jacob Scott
converted and the Tigers were up by 7.
Jacob Scott, slotted a penalty to provide three points more. The Tigers made a mental error and allowed a score late in the first half to bring the score to 10-7 Tigers.
The second half started off fast and furious but the Bulldogs held the Tigers out of the try zone for the first part of the second half. The Bulldogs
had a 5-meter scrum, defending, and the Tigers won the hook. Colin Sweeney drove the left side of the scrum and Captain Chris Lemons picked and dove over for the try. Jacob converted
and the Tigers lead 17-7.
In another impressive play from the lineout J.T. Henson found a crack in a confused defense attempting to defend two pods, broke three tackles and found the try line at the end of a 30 yard run. The conversion failed, but the Tigers continue to pull ahead, now 22-7.
Late in the game, another mental error led to an easy try for the Bulldogs when a pass was intercepted for a 25 yard run. It was a nice interception by a smart and athletic player. Score 22-14. With 15 minutes on the clock the Tigers had a penalty at the 40. Jacob punted to the 5 and the R.J. Thorne snagged the lineout to set up a beautiful platform for our backs, who by now were running through the defense. Jacob set up an excellent try with a skip and loop with Sam and Alex. Alex took the ball hard to the line and offloaded to Sam for the try. Jacob added two more points and the final was 29-14.
Captain Chris Lemons leads the most athletic Memphis Rugby team that we have seen in 5 years. We have depth of talent at all positions and the knowledge of the game is increasingly apparent. The players are uniquely gifted and demonstrated their talents in this match.
The most inventive of the Tigers is Tezman Mosely who understands the game, reads the opposition and is always looking for an edge. He stole a quick throw by the Bulldogs, was excellent at scrum half and would be even better if I could get him to stop hitting the props so hard.
Jacob Scott is the coolest player on the team. He led his backs from the 10 spot like he had been doing this forever. He had impressive poise and his switches were deadly. Except for one problem, his kicks were dead on.
JB Servent was solidly handled the kicks at fullback. As he learns to counter, he will be an increasing threat.
Matt Hill, Musa Banat, JT Henson, RJ Thorne, Alec Sisco, August Myers, Conlin Sweeney, Dakota Wilkerson and Joel Witcher delivered tremendous tackles on an offense that decided that they wanted no more. They delivered the body blows that softened up the bulldog defense and opened up running lanes late in the game.
The forwards were solid providing an excellent platform for the attack. Backs were fluid and responsive. Overall, the defense was greatly improved from last year.
The Tigers travel to University of Southern Indiana on Saturday September 17.
Referee: Eric Fleming
Thanks to Mr. Sweeney for his photos.
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