In a mid-season exhibition game The MCRC played their best rugby of the year so far beating Division I U-Conn by 42 points. Incredible kicking and running by the Middlebury backline had the Huskies pinned back in their own half for most of the game. Full report available below:
It was a difficult start for The MCRC over this Fall Family Weekend exhibition game as young lock Graeme Harlan Daubert ’12.5 is stretchered off the field within the first 2 minutes of the game after falling back awkwardly whilst making a tackle: dislocated hip and season cut short. With Daubert out, other back-up lock A.C. Jones ’12.5 already on the field & both regular 2nd row starters, Hinckley ’10 and Harasimowicz ’11, out through injury, Middlebury brings on Mark Caswell ’10 for his first cap for the Blue. By the end the tall senior has put in a solid performance, making a serious claim for a regular spot on the Middlebury squad.
The game is restarted after the long pause for the injury and Middlebury quickly gives away a penalty in their own 22 setting up an easy penalty kick for U-Conn. Against the odds the Huskies kicker strikes the left post but U-Conn is immediately gifted another bite at the cherry with another penalty 10 meters out. The Huskies opt to run the ball and come agonizingly close: ball held up over the try line by the Middlebury pack who then win the ball at the breakdown allowing Sirkia to clear the danger. A box kick followed by some fortuitous soccer skills by 9 man Song ’12 sets up a Middlebury line out 10 meters from the U-Conn try line. Middlebury looks to spread the ball wide from the lineout and hooker Brett Woelber ’09.5 finishes the play with a blind side break from the base of a ruck inches from the try line. Sirkia kicks the conversion: 7 – 0 Midd.
Berriman ’12 wins a defensive lineout inside the U-Conn 40. R. Kelner ’12 takes the pick ‘n’ drive off the resulting ruck and beats 3 tackles as the flanker shows a wondeful turn of unexpected pace. One on one with the fullback, Kelner throws the stiff arm, looks to make the dish, realizes he has the man beat and sells the last minute fake – try time. Sirkia converts: 14 – 0 Midd.
The Middlebury pack did well in the scrums against the much bigger U-Conn side. On several occasions Rowan Kelner at 8 is even able to make some picks off the base as Middlebury confidently holds its own. Another box-kick from Song puts U-Conn on the backfoot. From the exact same position that started Kelner’s earlier try Middlebury win their own lineout, the skip pass from Sirkia is quickly offloaded by outside center Darragh Hurley ’11 to fullback Kalan who burts into the line, draws both the U-Conn fullback and wing setting up Cahill with a footrace from the 22 to finish. Sirkia misses for the first time: 19 – 0 Midd.
U-Conn’s attack often involved their big #1 prop and they threatened the Middlebury goal line several times but great work by the Blue loose trio forced turnovers at crucial moments and Kalan eased the pressure with the boot. From almost the exact same position as the previous two tries The MCRC begins another brilliant attacking play almost a replay of the previous try – Song to Sirkia from the ruck, Sirkia to Hurley, Hurley to Kalan bursting into the line, Kalan draws 2 and dishes to Cahill on the outside. This time Cahill still has the fullback in front of him and he cuts inside, gets tackled and pops the ball up to Rowan Kelner in support. Sirkia misses the conversion but he quickly gets a chance to more than make up for the miss with two back to back penalty kicks from 30 meters out. 30 – 0 Middlebury.
A well placed kick from Kalan from just outside the Middlebury 22 is misfielded and bounces into the U-Conn 22 and Cahill is immediately onsite to force the turnover setting up a ruck 10 meters out. Song plays the ball right to Kalan, to Sirkia, to winger Harrison who heads for the corner with a quick in & out move to evade the defense. 35 – 0 Midd. Sirkia misses the tough kick from the sideline.
From the kick-off Middlebury wins a penalty and sets up a lineout just inside their half. Sirkia gets the pass from Song in his own 22 and skips out to the drifiting Hurley who sees the U-Conn defense sliding out-of-synch and attacks the opening hole. Hurley runs into the U-Conn half and puts through a chip at the 40 as the defense closes on him. He almost retrieves the kick himself but the U-Conn fullback just beats him to it and kicks the ball into touch. Spark of brilliance from the Irish outside center and The MCRC is excited to see more of the transfer in this role. U-Conn is able to force a turnover and get the ball into touch. Halftime: 35 points for Middlebury.
No subs at the half for Middlebury. U-Conn dominates the opening minutes of the 2nd half as they did the 1st half and almost score in the corner, Kalan making the try saving tackle to push the U-Conn winger into touch. U-Conn almost scores from the resulting 5 meter scrum but their 8 man fumbles at the try line after breaking blind. Middlebury wins a penalty in their own 22 and is able to clear the danger. Middlebury brings on flanker Daniel Powers ’11.5 as a blood sub for Nat Kelner and Mike Pappa ’11 comes on for Caswell (struggling with a cramps in both legs).
Middlebury wins a scrum on the U-Conn 40. Sirkia, once again, skips out to Hurley who finds a hole in the U-Conn centers and nudges the ball through from just outside the 22 and almost scores in the corner…many onlookers thought he scored but the ref adjudged the ball to have gone out of bounds before Hurley touches it down. Another glimmer of the Irishman’s threatening play.
The 2nd half saw a lot more see-saw play with Midd threatening from inside the U-Conn 22 but unable to convert then U-Conn threatening the Middlebury goal line and turning the ball over. Brendan Leanos ’10 comes on to replace Harrison on the wing.
The only try of the 2nd half comes after Middlebury pressure results in a lineout to U-Conn on their 5 meter line. The Midd pack forces the turnover and Song picks up the loose ball and sneaks by the unsuspecting Husky defense. Sirkia puts the icing on the cake with the conversion: 42 – 0 Middlebury.
1st cap for rookie flanker Sebastien Damberg-Ott ’12 replacing Nat Kelner, who returned to action after taking a few minutes for the blood sub.
Line-up: Mutty, Woelber, Vandergrift, Daubert (Caswell 2), AC Jones, N. Kelner (Powers 45 blood, Damberg-Ott 70), Berriman, R. Kelner, Song, Sirkia, Cahill, Meany, Hurley, Harrison (Leanos ’10), Kalan
Points: Trys – Woelber, R. Kelner (2), Cahill, Harrison, Song; Penalty Kicks – Sirkia (2), Conversions – Sirkia (3)
1st cap: Mark Caswell ’10, Sebastien Damberg-Ott ’12