On a very cold and blustery April day, the Highlanders hosted an always tough club from Erie, PA. With snow flying in the air, the Highlanders looked to avenge a narrow 10 – 7 defeat at the hands of Erie in September of 2015. It was one of only two Highlander losses on the season. Erie was coming in without a loss, but had yet to play their two toughest games of the season: at the Highlanders and at the Cleveland Rovers the next weekend.
The contest got off to a heated start with veteran number 8 David Banta earning a yellow card while defending his scrumhalf. Erie, known for sometimes taking liberties against opponents, was being aggressive against the undersized Powers following a breakdown. Banta, separated the Erie player from Powers before being punched by Erie’s outside center. The confrontation earned Banta a 10 minute break with a yellow card and the Erie player a game misconduct with a red card. It took the Highlanders only a few minutes to take advantage of the numbers before talented young lock Brandon Benvenuti was able to touch down his first try of the day. Powers was able to hit the conversion and the club enjoyed a 7 – 0 lead.
At the 25 minute mark, Erie was able to get on the board with a score of their own before outside center Patrick Dobbins was able to reestablish the lead 10 minutes later. Again, Powers was able to hit the conversion and the Highlanders led 14 – 5 at the half.
After the half, Erie was able to find the try zone again and add a conversion to cut the lead to 2. After several changes in possession and lots of back and forth rugby, Benvenuti and Dobbins were able to add 2 late game tries to pull away from the always resilient All Blacks. With an added Powers conversion, the final score read 26 – 12, improving the Highlanders to 6 – 2 on the season.
Highlander First 15: 1 – Cone, 2 – Colon, 3 – Gregg (R), 4 – Benvenuti, 5 – Marnell, 6 – Zimmerman, 7 – David, 8 – Banta, 9 – Powers, 10 – Massie, 11 – Glasstetter, 12 – Reynolds, 13 – Dobbins, 14 – Muraco, 15 – Powell
Reserves: 16 – Andrus, 17 – Deakin, 18 – Sampson, 19 – Lacek, 20 – Dell
Substitutions: Sampson for Colon @ 55 minutes (TC)
Tries: Benvenuti (10, 11), Dobbins (5,6)
Conversions: Powers (3/4)
Cards: Banta (Yellow)