Oxford, MS: The Memphis Tigers traveled to Oxford to open the fall season against Ole Miss. With recent success against the Rebels (Bears) over the past three years the Tigers had hoped to continue the streak. The Tigers were not beaten, they really beat themselves. Too many mental errors and failure to capitalize on opportunities in the red zone, left us short.
We dominated Ole Miss for the first 10 minutes of the match and were in scoring position twice. However, Ole Miss settled and the match began to turn. We missed a few tackles and found ourselves defending a lineout on our 10. Ole Miss took it quick off the top, we missed a tackle inside and they were in the try zone. The kick shanked in from the left upright and we are down 0-7.
In the second 20, the Jonathan Brewi threw in to himself on our own 20, taking advantage of the Ole Miss slow walk to the lineout. He ran across field, up to the 40, then chips ahead. The ball is gathered by the Ole Miss wing, but he is quickly dumped and Brewi had the ball in hand again. He chipped ahead again and Thomas Strickland streaked for the ball dribbling at the Ole Miss 15. Thomas toes the ball in goal and downs for the Tigers first points. Brewi fails to convert, but the Tigers have shown their creativity and excellent open field play. 5-7
Shortly after the Tigers score, the Rebels lift the ball toward the goal with players in support and the Tiger defense was in disarray. They notch 5 more points, fail to convert. The half ends with a score 5-12.
As we assess the half, we have lost Josiah, our captain, to a shoulder injury and Brandon Worley to a knee. However, we go into the second half rather optimistic. We have played rather well in several sets and are only short on points due to a few mental errors. Fix the errors and we should be in good shape.
However, early in the second half, the defense fails to cover the field and the Rebels #8 scores on a 50 meter scamper from a ruck. Our forwards were not at the ruck as they should have been. Breakdown in communication and effort. The Rebs sneak in another try and now the tigers are against the ropes. 5-24.
The Tigers are hungry and are frustrated with their inability to score. They go on a rampage for 15 minutes where they pound on the Ole Miss goal line. After three penalties and fours scrums, Brewi taps a 5 meter penalty and dishes to Brock Ayers, who doesn’t even appear that he ever intended to pass the ball. He barrels over three players, slips two more and carries two into the goal. It was a very impressive few several minutes of rugby. Taylor Burton slots the conversion and the Tigers are crawling back into the match. 12-24
The Tigers are caught not releasing the player at their 30 and Ole Miss takes a penalty for three more points. 12-27
One play in particular was fun to watch. Tezman found the ball at wing with two men to beat and no room to work, so he lifted the ball in the air and caught it on the full. It ended with a high tackle. There was plenty of give and take with the Tigers making impressive moves. However, they could not get in goal. With one minute left, Ole Miss quick taps a penalty to score in the corner. Final score, 12-32.
We learned a lot as a club during the match. The video was telling. Some players are confused about their role, but most are ready to contribute. I’ll make the needed adjustments and we will deal with the problems in practice. We have Oak Leaf this weekend and need to sort things out. However, I remain optimistic about the Tigers as we move forward.