April 5, 2014, Memphis, Tennessee – In the locker room before the match, Captain Adam Hairston peered into the eyes of his mates and challenged them to bring their best game. Reflecting on how far they had come this year, they committed to finishing strong in front of the home crowd. And finish strong they did.
Georgia Tech, no pushover, came to town in search of a win. They have powerful forwards and some very quick and cagey backline players. But today, the Tigers decided to play out of their minds.
In practice this week we worked intently on getting the ball to our wings. Speed is one asset we’ve had a hard time consistently using. The added practice paid off. It worked like a charm. Early in the match, Anthony Smith, standing on the left wing, lit up the scoreboard with a 35 meter dash to center the ball under the posts.
Before the dust could settle, Anthony got loose again, sprinting 30 meters to take his second try. Then it was Donovan Thomas’ turn. The GA Tech defense shifted to handle Anthony, so Donovan, coming from inside center, spied a crack in the defense. Hitting the hole hard, he shook off the tackler, swerve moved the fullback to the ground and dotted the try. Tigers lead 15-0 at the half.
The second half started the same way as the first half, with Anthony taking third phase ball and dashing 45 meters for his “hat-trick” try. Kyle Baker, brought in at wing to help with the kicking duties took the conversion. Later, Baker chipped in 15 meter penalty for three more points.
Not to be deterred, Georgia Tech committed to play their game and completed three successive drives up the middle using their powerful forwards. They controlled the ball, dominating possession for over 20 minutes and drove deep into Tiger territory. The Tigers kicked out of trouble two times but the last drive ending in a Tech try. 25-5
And then it began to rain Tiger tries.
- Thomas Strickland playing scrum half went weak-side from a ruck and ran 40 meters up the west sideline to score. Baker chipped in the conversion.
- John Elmore standing fly-half had been delivering the ball to his centers all day. But, feeling the try line, this time sold a hard dummy to open up a hole that he exploited scoring under the posts. Baker chipped in the conversion.
- Just before the end of the match, TJ Hardaway standing inside center broke a tackle and sprinted 65 meters up the east sidelines outrunning all GA Tech defenders. As he dove for the try the crowd went crazy.
Tigers win 46-5. The crowd at Halle enjoyed a great demonstration of rugby. It was even enjoyable for the coaches to watch.
Today was senior day and we honored our graduating senior, Jonathan Bauer. At the half, Freddy (The Face) Hodges, our stadium announcer, listed Jonathan Bauer’s accomplishments on and off the field and led the stadium in three cheers for Jonathan. Jonathan, playing his last game as a Tiger, played out of his mind and was awarded the Man of the Match for his tough tackles, ferocious rucks, and offensive ball carrying against a powerful opposing pack.
Anthony Smith was honored as the Best Back for his hat trick. He demonstrated extreme prowess at wing today and using his combination of speed and power to get three tries. He also consistently shut down the GA Tech attack, and connected with his brother Scott in defending against the long kick.
Another treat for the day was the appearance of the Whitten Baptist Youth Group, who cooked burgers and dogs for the fans free of charge. Whitten is where Josiah Shipley and JC Russell worship and many in the youth group are Tiger Fans. The presence of the Whitten Youth Group added a carnival atmosphere to the day and made the Saturday win even more enjoyable for the fans and players.
Freddy (the face) Hodges handled the press box duties with JC Russell giving him a hand. He played the music and announced the match. Having Freddy on the microphone added positively to the experience of the 200 fans who showed up.
Fans in attendance included the family, friends, the Lady Tigers, Tiger Old Boys, and several high school rugby players from the inner city rugby program. The players truly appreciate the support of the fans.
As the last whistle blew, three cheers for the opposition and Freddy cranked up the Tiger Fight Song. The Tigers and the Tiger fans enjoyed soaking up the feeling of the Tiger win as the fight song rang through the stadium.
That’s the way to end a season.
Side: 1. Justice Houston, 2. Josiah Shipley, 3. Matt Hill, 4. Ronnie Roberson, 5. Chris Lemons, 6. August Myers 7. Adam Hairston (Captain), 8. Jonathan Bauer, 9. Thomas Strickland 10. John Elmore, 11. Tezman Mosley 12. Donovan Thomas 13. Cameron Walton 14. Anthony Smith, 15. Scott Smith, 16. TJ Hardaway, 17. Hector Marquez, 18. Willie Lacey, 19. Bert Milam, 20. Kyle Baker
Injured Reserve: Nick Harrison, Sam Kordab
Man of the Match: Jonathan Bauer
Best Back: Anthony Smith
Referee: Eric Fleming
Field: Halle Stadium
Announcer: Freddy “The Face” Hodges
Thanks to Connie Griffin for taping the match. Video available soon.
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