MATCH REPORT: March 25, 2017 v. Greensburg Maulers
After a long, four month break from league competition, the Highlanders were eager to back onto the pitch in order to continue their dominant stretch of not losing a league match since early October 2015. After going 8 – 0 in the fall portion of the season, the Highlanders began offseason training in early February in order to prepare for a long spring season that will hopefully take them through the month of May and well into the USAR playoffs. Their first test would be against their brother-side, the Greensburg Maulers coming in with a record of 2 – 5 – 1.
The weather was quite nice for a mid-March rugby match. The temperature was in the high 60’s with the sun peaking from the clouds every so often. The conditions were ideal for a spring rugby match. The Highlanders kicked off to the Maulers and were quickly able to gain possession. They marched down the field and deep into Mauler territory, but were unable to convert their hard work into scoring. Possession after possession ended with a misplay that resulted in the game remaining scoreless for the first 20 minutes even though the Highlanders possessed the ball in the Greensburg half almost the entire time. Finally, Flyhalf Tyree Massie (Cal) was able to touch the ball down after a lineout steal by Eric David. Winger Scott Powers (UPJ) was able to nail the conversion to put the Highlanders up 7 – 0. After the ensuing kickoff, the Highlanders were once again deep in Greensburg territory for several minutes without a score. A scare came when the Mauler Outside Center picked off a pass at the 2 meter line and looked to take it all the way back for a Greensburg score. Powers was able to fly back from a touch position and bring down the speedy Mualer around mid-field, a fantastic defensive player. Later, with the ball back in hand and nearing the try-zone, scrumhalf Zach Powell (Cal) wasn’t able to quite beat the Greensburg wing to the corner, but made brilliant pass back inside to a charging Bill Marnell (Cal) for a score. Unfortunately for the Highlanders, the Greensburg touch called the play back, stating the Powell stepped out near the 5 meter line. Powell was able to get on the board just a few minutes later by dotting down his fifth try of the season, giving the Highlanders a 12 – 0 lead at the half.
After the half, the Highlanders made several key substitutions. Both second rows were replaced, as well as Powell at Scrumhalf. Lock Brandon Benvenuti, in for Marnell, was able to make an immediate impact on the scoring sheet by dotting down a try at the 45 minute mark. Center Neil Reynolds (UPJ) was also able to come alive in the second half dotting down two tries and playing well to further the Highlanders lead. With more players coming off the bench, the Highlander’s depth was able to overwhelm the tired Maulers. Benvenuti touched down his second try of the day, and Number 8 Michael Rennie was able to touch down his ninth of the season set up by rookie Jack Haney’s (IUP) long run. Finally, to end the day, Lock Andrew Chapman, on again due to Jeff Muha’s front row blood injury, was able to touch down Pittsburgh’s final try of the day. After all was said and done, the Highlanders erupted for 6 second half tries and crusaded to a 42 – 0 victory over Greensburg.
With the victory, the Highlanders improve to 9 – 0 and head into a bye week on April 1. Afterwards, the will stay home and host Akron (2 – 5 – 1). Greensburg will host South Pittsburgh at Mammoth Park in Mt. Pleasant.
First XV: 1 – Crifaci, 2 – Eritz, 3 – R. Gregg 4 – Marnell, 23 – A. Chapman, 6 – Zimmerman, 7 – David, 8 – Rennie, 9 – Powell, 10 – Massie, 11 – Powers, 12 – Reynolds, 13 – Dobbins, 14 – Haney, 15 – Zangaro
Reserves: 5 – Benvenuti, 16 – Muha, 17 – Wingert, 18 – Reaghard , 19 – Vesely, 20 – Hestdalen, 21 – Walton, 22 – Hoellman
Substitutions: 40’ – Benvenuti for Marnell (TC), Wingert for A. Chapman (TC), Vesely for Powell (TC); 55’ – Muha for R. Gregg (IJ); 60’ – Reaghard for Zimmerman (TC), Hestdalen for Massie (TC), 65’ – A. Chapman for Muha (BL), Walton for Haney (TC), 70’ – Hoellman for Powers (TC), 75’ – Muha for A. Chapman (BL)
Referee: Judd Worrall (ARURS)
Tries: Benvenuti (6, 7), A. Chapman (4), Massie (3), Powell (5), Rennie (9), Reynolds (4, 5)
Conversions: Benvenuti (0/1), Powers (1/6), Reynolds (0/1)
Man of the Match: To be determined.