Memphis traveled to Searcy, Arkansas to take on Harding University last weekend on a fine September day. Depleted in numbers and experience with some key players in the Tallahassee SIRC Sevens Tournament, 17 fit and ready players fronted. In the past year, Memphis has had the wood over Harding with 2 comfortable victories. However they appeared to want to remedy that on the day, showing up with a large squad and considerable size across the field.
The match began as a real arm wrestle, with a bruising encounter developing inside the first 20 minutes. It wasn’t until Will Fitts crossed the line for his first Tiger try off the back of a strong scrum that the deadlock was broken. Brave Tiger defense then held out the Harding attack, wave after wave as the yellow and white of Harding were camped inside the Tiger 22 for long periods of time. However as the half progressed, the Tiger fitness and experience showed, pilling on 15 more points thanks to a penalty try and tries to Nolan and Freddie. Harding had the last say of the half, despite desperate Tiger defense, scoring in the corner to trail 20-5 at the intermission.
At halftime, wise words from Captain Phil Elliot, spoke of the need to push the tempo of the game and to tackle smarter against bigger, stronger opposition. As the second half progressed, these words bore fruit as the Tiger pack rucked more ferociously as a unit to blow away Harding and enjoy long periods of possession. Tactical kicking from Phil Elliot and forward domination at set-piece play ensured that the Tigers played in Harding territory for the majority of the half. Freshman Kasra Koleini stepped up in the second row to kick two penalties. Tries to Will Fitts and Freddie capped a double for each and a great solo effort from Jonathon Brewi rounded off the eventually comfortable 41-6 win.
While the score developed into a one sided affair, the conditioning and experience of the young Tiger team proved to be outlasting factors in the match. Overall it was an enjoyable and successful weekend all round for Memphis Tiger Rugby on the road.
Game report by: Joshua Campbell
Final Score 45-5
Captain of the side – Phil Elliott
Man of the Match – Will Fitts
Best Back – Nolan Wilson