MATCH REPORT: October 14th, 2017 v. South Pittsburgh (D3)
After 3 weeks without a game, the Highlanders were eager to get back on the field on this past Saturday to take on crosstown foes, the South Pittsburgh Hooligans. After a bye and then a forfeit from Pitt City Rugby, the boys were ready to roll again. It was yet another hot and sunny day of October rugby, with the team now accepting the fact fall weather will probably arrive just in time for playoffs.
The Highlanders gave up a penalty right off the first kick-off and it was South Pitt who was on the attack early. The defense held, and the Highlanders were quickly able to march down the field, utilizing their space out wide and strong running by wingers Nate Hoellman and Michael Zapf. Outside center Neil Reynolds (UPJ) was the first to touch down. His try was quickly followed up by another try to physical flanker, Michael Boyd (Cal U). Unfortunately, after this try the game was delayed for a while as some emergency repairs were made to one of the goal posts.
The scoring continued, with Reynolds and Boyd both doting down again within the next few minutes, and scrum half Zach Powell (Cal U) converting these tries. It was the momentum created by the Highlander forwards that were driving them down the field, with strong runs from hooker Nick Eritz (Cal U) and prop Jeff Muha. With the score at 26-0 after 13 minutes, it looked like it could be a really long day for South Pittsburgh. However, they fought back hard and played disciplined rugby. The Highlanders started to let themselves down with a number of penalties and errors that kept the door open for South Pitt. Fortunately, flanker Eric David was able to touch down one last time before the half.
South Pittsburgh came out strong after the half, and just like the game earlier in the season, were the first ones to put points on the board in the second half. The score was closed to 33-7. After a few physical confrontations, Boyd was able to dot down again for the Highlanders. Following that, the Highlanders were able to go to their bench and like previous weeks, utilize the fresh legs of John Shearer (Cal U) and Blayze Richardson (Cal U) who had immediate impacts with ball in hand and in support.
As the heat started to take its toll and the fresh legs came on, the Highlanders kept up the momentum. They started to capitalize on space out wide and with strong support play, young winger Pat McAuliffe (Duquesne) touched down. The Highlanders didn’t let up; with 3 more tries in the remaining ten minutes resulting in a final score of 69-7.
The Highlanders now look forward to the last game in the division this season, against Greensburg, before moving into playoff games. After a close game against Greensburg earlier in the season, the Highlanders have a point to prove this weekend and will look to dominate for the full 80 minutes.
First XV: 1 – Andrus; 2- Ertiz; 3 – Muha; 4 – Chapman; 5 – Sparkman; 6 – Boyd; 7 – David; 8 – Benvenuti; 9 – Powell; 10 – Zangaro; 11 – Zapf; 12 – Reynolds; 13 – Dobbins; 14 – Hoellman; 15 – Battistone
Reserves: 16 – Marnell; 17 – Shearer; 18 – Reaghard; 19 – Fazekas; 20 – McAuliffe; 21 – Hebert; 22 – Richardson; 23 – Powers
Substitutions: 52’ – Marnell for Andrus (TC), Shearer for Chapman; 58’ – Richardson for Battistone (TC), McAuliffe for Hoellman (TC); 67’ – Powers for Powell (TC), Hebert for Zapf (TC)
Referee: David Kuhn (ARURS)
Tries: Boyd (2, 3, 4, 5); David (2); Dobbins (4); McAullife (1); Reynolds (4, 5, 6); Zangaro (2)
Conversions: Powell (6/8); Powers (1/3)
Man of the Match: Mike Boyd, Flanker (1)