Kennesaw, GA. February 22 – The Tigers played the best game of rugby that I have ever seen them play. The forwards have been playing very well for the past few weeks and today the backs caught up and were fantastic. They used their speed and exceptional ball handling skills to fly thorough the KSU backline. There was one point at the end of the first half where we scored three times in a row. It was the prettiest rugby I have ever seen us play.
Thinking the Tigers weak, KSU had left 5 of their better players off of the starting roster to give the backups playing time. The Tigers, stiff from the six hour ride, started off slow. But, when they got going, they took off.
Donovan Thomas started the scoring when he took it in on our “New Zealand” play from midfield. Scott Smith flew up from fullback to take the next points on a “Double X” that would have made Dr. Wally Dyke (Old #7) proud. Winger Anthony Smith spied a overload and came across the field from the left wing to the right to loop Scott to get the next score. The backs got loose again on a long run that saw the ball in the hands of 4 players after it crossed the gain line. Anthony had it last and took the try. With one minute in the first half, flyhalf John Elmore called for “New Zealand” at the 35 meter line and Thomas Strickland took the ball in from scrum half. John converted three tries to put the Tigers ahead 36 to 22 at the half.
During the last 15 minutes of the first half, the KSU coach was about to lose it. He was screaming profusely at
his players, kicking the ground and pulling his hair out. He could not get his starters in the game fast enough.
When the second half started, we faced the KSU starting side. Initially we had problems with their big #8. Standing 6’4 and 250, he was a bit to handle. There were 4 other very large players in the backline and forwards. The KSU rucking also improved. It was also tough facing 5 fresh players after we had already played for 40 minutes.
KSU slowly got back in the game. We had a tough time stopping the big fellows. KSU just pounded the line. Finally, at the 20 minute mark of the second half, I could feel the tide shift. Our players, no longer intimidated, were taking back control of the match. We were winning the rucks and we made the big boys run from side to side.
John chipped in a penalty from 15 meters out. Then Scott Smith scored his hat trick with 10 minutes in the match. Josiah Shipley scored a try on a 5 meter penalty quick tap, but the referee didn’t see the kick and called for a re-kick. We were climbing back into the match but the clock was not kind. The whistle blew and we were short 8 points.
The lads were sad about the loss, but they were heartened that they played the best team in the SIRC North close, and almost took them. I am glad to see us playing at this level. I’m very proud of our lads.
Side: 1. Matt Hill, 2. Nick Harrison, 3. Justice Houston, 4. Chris Lemons, 5. Jonathan Bauer, 6. August Myers, 7. Sam Kordab, 8. Adam Hairston (Captain), 9. Thomas Strickland, 10. John Elmore, 11. Anthony Smith, 12. Josiah Shipley, 13. Donovan Thomas, 14. Willie Lacey, 15. Scott Smith, 16. TJ Hardaway.
Man of the Match: Scott Smith
Best forward: Adam Hairston
The Tigers take on MTSU Saturday, March 1 at 4:00 pm at Halle Stadium in Memphis. $5.00 per ticket for the best show on earth. No charge for high school students if you mention the team that you play for. So, come out and cheer on the Tigers.
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