The Highlanders took their 1 – 0 record to Akron for their Fall 2014 home opener. Akron boasted a large crowd following their women’s match on a beautiful sunny September day. The Highlanders were coming off a 69 – 0 victory of Pittsburgh Rugby Club while Akron was looking to open up their 2014 campaign on the right foot by beating a Club that defeated them twice the prior season.
Akron kicked off to Lock Bill Marnell who was immediately able to swing the ball wide to the talented Highlander back line. Playing text book fundamental rugby, the Highlanders were able to methodically travel down the field with timely offloads and excellent support. They put Akron on their heels early with young and talented flanker Brandon Benvenuti placing down his second try of the young season. Veteran Scott Powers, playing scrumhalf today was unable to convert the try leaving the Highlanders with an early 5 – 0 lead.
After a second kickoff to the Highlanders second row, the Club was able to once again move down the field in an organized fashion. After Akron committed a penalty near the 5 meter line, Highlander powerhouse prop Jarred Frawley was able to set down his first try of the day, his second on the young season. Powers was able to convert and gave the Highlanders a 12 point advantage. With momentum fully on their sides, Flyhalf Tyree “CC” Massie was able to spring center Neil Reynolds for his first try of the season and after the Powers conversion, the lead was extender to 19 points. Akron was able to take advantage of a small defensive crack and with a nice dummy pass from the fullback, the Akron side set down their first try of the day. The Highlanders used this opportunity to get in talented loose forward Zack Kochin who came in for Marnell. Akron was able to answer a second Benvenuti try in the 22nd minute with another try of their own, so the Highlanders brought on talented scrumhalf Kyle Hilsey and dominating wing Brian Barnett to shore up the defense. Jarred Frawley scored his second of the day shortly before half and after the Powers conversion, the Highlanders took a 31 – 12 lead into the half.
After half, the game was a more tightly played and tensions seemed to rise between the two clubs and the referee. 10 minutes into the half, Tyree Massie was able to set down his second try of the season to extend the Highlander lead. Powers converted this as well. A few minutes after, Akron was able to scamper down the field and set down their third try of the day to bring the score a little close, but tries by Zack Kochin and Jarred Frawley ended any Akron hopes of a comeback. The Highlanders were able to hold Akron at bay and even score a few times while being down 2 players for some time for questionable yellow cards. With time winding down, Akron was able to place another try down with just a few minutes remaining; however the result was already clear. The Highlanders took the game 50 – 22 to improve their record to 2 – 0 and earned a bonus point in both contests on the year.