MATCH REPORT: October 15, 2016 vs. Cleveland Rovers
On a cool and sunny fall day, the Highlanders looked to exact revenge on a tough Cleveland Rovers side who beat them out for the division championship by one league point at the conclusion of the 2015 – 2016 competition cycle. Although the Highlanders split the home at home series with the Rovers, the sting of not making the playoffs still weighed on the Highlanders mind. After some confusion with the Allegheny Rugby Union’s Referee Society, the game kicked off about 30 minutes late, with the Rovers receiving the ball.
After several minutes of back and forth rugby, the Highlanders were able to take advantage of a missed knock on call and open up the scoring when outside center Patrick Dobbins (UPJ) touched down his fourth try of the season. A few minutes later, wing Scott Powers (UPJ) was able to slip through a hole in the Cleveland defense to touch down his first try of the season and put the Highlanders up by 10. Shortly before the half, talented scrumhalf Zach Powell (Cal U) was able to break free and touch down his second try of the season. After the conversion by Powers, the Highlanders were able to take a 17 – 0 lead into the half.
The Rovers were large and hard hitting; their size knocked two Highlander forwards out of the game at half and almost a third when Number 8 Michael Rennie (Old Blue) was removed from the game temporarily due to blood. At half, reserves Bill Marnell (Cal U) and Tim Chapman were able to come on for the injured Dan Andrus and John Shearer (Cal U). After the second half kick, center Neil Reynolds (UPJ), who was having an excellent game was able to cut through the backline and score his second try of the season. This was followed by two consecutive tries by flanker Mike Boyd (Cal U) before he was removed from the game after tempers flared at the bottom of a ruck. This brought on forward’s captain Sammy Zimmerman (IUP) to assist in closing out the game.
The Rovers were able to score twice during the second half, but it was not enough to keep up with the high powered Highlander offense. Even as they brought on reserves to rest tired starters, Powers and Powell were each able to add additional tries and Powers found his conversion touch near the end of the game. The final score read: Highlanders 46 – Rovers 10.
With the win, the Highlanders improved to 5 – 0 and remained undefeated on the season. The Rovers fell to 2 – 3 leading into their bye week. The Highlanders will take their first place record to the second place Cleveland Crusaders (D3) this upcoming weekend. The Crusaders only lost was week one to the Rovers, but have since won four in a row to challenge the Highlanders division lead. The game will be kicked off on the east side of Cleveland on Saturday, October 22 at 1:00pm.
First XV: 1 – Crifaci, 2 – Ab. Cone, 3 – Andrus, 4 – A. Chapman, 5 – Shearer, 6 – Boyd, 7 – David, 8 – Rennie, 9 – Powell, 10 – Massie, 11 – Powers, 12 – Reynolds, 13 – Dobbins, 14 – Zapf, 15 – Zangaro
Reserves: 16 – Marnell, 17 – T. Chapman, 18 – Benvenuti, 19 – Zimmerman, 20 – Vesely, 21 – Fazekas, 22 – Gregovich, 23 – R. Gregg
Substitutions: Benvenuti for Rennie @ 35’ (BL), Rennie for Benvenuti @ 40’ (BL), Marnell for Andrus @ 40’ (IJ), T. Chapman for Shearer @ 40’ (IJ), Zimmerman for Boyd @ 63’ (TC), R. Gregg for Ab. Cone @ 70’ (TC), Vesely for Zapf @ 70’ (TC) and Fazekas for Rennie @ 75’ (TC)
Referee: None Provided by ARURS
Tries: Boyd (2, 3), Dobbins (4), Powell (2, 3), Powers (1, 2), Reynolds (2)
Conversions: Powers (3/8)
Man of the Match: Zach Powell, Scrumhalf (2)