The sun was shining but Middlebury made it rain. Where to begin…1st try of the game came within 59 seconds of the opening kick-off. The most impressive part of Middlebury’s performance was their ability to keep up the pressure throughout – playing 80 minutes of smart, tactically sound, champagne rugby. It’s easy for the dominant team to take their foot off the accelerator and to start playing scrappy, frantic, “white line fever” rugby in the second half but Middlebury focused in at half time with the game well won and came out still at 100% despite making the full list of substitutions allowed – great depth within The Blue!
The few moments we lapsed in concentration Williams threatened using their great size advantage but these lapses were momentary and quickly corrected…usually in the form of full field counterattacks spearheaded by the Middlebury playmakers Sirkia ’12.5 & Kalan ’12.5 – how these gentlemen dissect defenses, be it ball in hand or off the bootlaces. The Middlebury backline may also have finally found the superlative combination at the centers with former fullback Brendan Leanos ’10 inside and tranfer student Darragh Hurley ’11 outside. With the hard hitting and strong running of Leanos inside Hurley had space to work his magic (instead of needing to create space from scratch) and what a spectacle the relentless Irishman put on. With freshman Don Song ’13 carving out his niche at 9 man and each week improving the speed and quality of his delivery Sirkia and his line have more time & space to execute and with finishers like Captain Cahill ’09.5, Sam Harrison ’11 & Zach Withers ’11.5 it’s simply “Try Time” City! Important to note freshman Dylan Whitaker ’13 picking up his first cap and scoring two tries in the corner – another great prospect for the future of Middlebury rugby.
But let us not forget the Middlebury pack – the smallest pack in New England DII men’s rugby – not just holding their own but dominating much larger packs with incredible scrumming, ferocius rucking, varied lineouts and now some deft mauling has been added to their attacking arsenal. Size helps but rugby is a game of technique and tenacity as the Middlebury forwards prove week in week out. Second rowmen Blake Hinckley ’10 and Drew Harisomowicz ’11 were both back healthy and powered the engine room of the scrum behind frontrowmen of choice captain Mutty ’09.5, Woelber ’09.5 and Vandergrift ’11, the man they call “Calves”. Special mention of open side flanker Rowan Kelner ’12 whose open field running was astounding breaking tackles at will and highlighting an unexpected turn of pace – The MCRC is glad to have the anglo-american back to full health. Injuries and sickness have been the driving force in selection of the Middlebury backrows but what a wonderful selection problem it will be when Rowan, brother Nat, Ross Berriman ’12, Zach Bills ’11 and Chris Marshall ’11 are all fit and rearing to go. Berriman and Bills were both out recovering this week.
Ref: Chris “Gusto” Davis