MATCH REPORT: September 9, 2017 v. Pittsburgh Rugby Club (D3)
After going undefeated in league play last season, but failing to get through the first round of the Midwest playoffs, the Highlanders looked to reload quickly in the all fall league schedule of 2017. The first opponent for the new look club was a familiar foe, crosstown rival Pittsburgh Rugby Club.
The Highlanders had many returning veterans available for this match, but looked to show off some new blood they added this 2017 season. The match began with some back in forth rugby between the two sides, but after the dust settled, the Highlanders scored often to cruise to a 90 – 0 win over Pittsburgh, Nine Highlander players scored a total of fourteen tries against the young Pittsburgh side. Leading the scoring was veteran forwards Brandon Benvenuti and Jeff Muha, each with three tries. Club President Neil Reynolds (UPJ), who plays Inside Center, was able to dot down two scores while Eric David, Patrick Dobbins (UPJ), Zach Powell (Cal U), Blayze Richardson (Cal U), Tyler Sparkman and Devin Zangaro (IUP) were able to each score a try themselves.
This was the first league match in the black and red for a number of new players including Tyler Sparkman, who got the start at lock, Blayze Richardson who came into the game at Number 8 and Jurnee Wilson (Cal U) who came into the game at wing. Also making their Highlander debuts were young outside back Patrick MacAuliffe from Duquesne University and Bill Battistone, getting the start at fullback, from the Iowa City Ducks.
In the end, there were several great performances from several Highlanders. Standout games came from Jeff Muha, who was awarded Man of the Match, Brandon Benvenuti, and Scott Powers who was able to add sixteen points via conversions, including several challenging kicks from the fringes of the field. Loose Forward Mike Boyd (Cal U) didn’t end up on the score sheet, but contributed to several tries and played excellent in his first start at Number 8. Devin Zangaro transitioned from outside back last season to Flyhalf this season and also had a standout game.
With the win, the Highlanders will travel to McDonald, PA this weekend to take on rival South Pittsburgh Hooligans. The Hooligans will enter the game 1 – 0 as well after defeating Greensburg by a score of 38 – 13 on the opening weekend. The Hooligans will look to end a long losing streak to the Highlanders; the Highlanders have not lost to the Hooligans in league play since April 2014.
First XV: 1 – Crifaci; 2 – Eritz; 3 – Muha; 4 – Chapman; 5 – Sparkman; 6 – Reaghard; 7 – David; 8 – Boyd; 9 – Powell; 10 – Zangaro; 11 – Zapf; 12 – Reynolds; 13 – Dobbins; 14 – Powers; 15 – Battistone
Reserves: 16 – Andrus; 17 – Marnell; 18 – Benvenuti; 19 – Richardson; 20 – Vesley; 21 – Glasstetter; 22 – Wilson; 23 – McAuliffe
Substitutions: 40’ – Benvenuti for Reaghard (TC); 50’ – Andrus for Crifaci (TC); 60’ – Richardson for Chapman (TC), Glasstetter for Battistone; 65’ – Marnell for Eritz (TC), Wilson for Powers (TC), MacAuiliffe for Zapf (TC); 68’ – Vesley for Powell (TC)
Referee: Mark Seaton (ARURS)
Tries: Benvenuti (1, 2, 3); David (1); Dobbins (1); Muha (1, 2, 3); Powell (1); Reynolds (1, 2); Richardson (1); Sparkman (1); Zangaro (1)
Conversions: Powell (0/1), Powers (8/10), Zangaro (2/3)
Man of the Match: Jeff Muha, Prop (1)