Dartmouth Rugby Splits Opener

Dispatched from the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club wire service:

On a beautiful Labor Day weekend in Hanover, Dartmouth kicked off their fall season with a pair of tough tests against top Canadian sides Queen’s University and McGill University as part of the Dartmouth Rugby Classic, presented by Rockwood and Royall Rugby.

Although The Big Green had a tough opening game against Queen’s, losing 36-0, they bounced back nicely to defeat McGill 32-15 to get a split on the weekend. Overall, both games were good experiences that helped a 1st XV looking to break in several new starters, according to Captain and No. 8 Paul Jarvis, Darmouth Class of 2012. “I was very excited to see the team progress over the weekend,” he said. “We still have a ways to go in terms of technique in contact and winning set piece ball, but the team really showed glimpses of greatness this weekend.”

Dartmouth was back on their heel right away in their first game against Queen’s, as the opening kick off didn’t go ten meters, giving the Golden Gaels a scrum at midfield. From there, they quickly moved the ball down the field, taking it to the five-meter line in only a few phases. It was then that Jarvis got hit in the head by an opponent’s knee while going for a tackle, suffering a mild concussion.

As he lay on the field still reeling from the injury, Queen’s quickly moved the ball wide to get their first try. As the guests made the subsequent conversion, Jarvis was able to walk off the field under his own power, but was unable to return to the game. “It was immensely disappointing to get hurt so early in the season,” he said afterwards. “Fortunately it’s only the preseason, so I should be back within a few weeks at worst. In the mean time, I’ll contribute to the team in other ways and work on my recovery.”

With their captain sidelined and down a try only two minutes into the game, things somehow only got worse for The Big Green. A few minutes later, they would have a kick deep in their own territory blocked, leading to a mad scramble in the try zone for the ball. While fullback Madison Hughes, Dartmouth Class of 2015, was able to hold up a Queen’s player to prevent the try, the Golden Gaels would not be denied that easily as they deftly moved the ball wide from the subsequent scrum to get their second try and go up 12-0. They would add another only two minutes later as they once again went wide, this time from a lineout to increase the lead to 17-0. Ultimately, Dartmouth would not be able to recover from their slow start. “The first ten minutes against Queen’s evidenced our relative inexperience with one another on defense, as we conceded three fairly routine tries at the very start of the game,” said co-captain and flyhalf Bill Lehmann, Dartmouth Class of 2012. “From that deficit, it was always going to be difficult to catch up.” While the match became a much more even contest as it went on, any hopes of a Dartmouth comeback would be dashed right before halftime, when a Queen’s player caught the ball off the goalpost after a missed penalty kick and then proceeded to run it through the hands for another try to make the score 24-0. The Golden Gaels would add two more tires in the second half to bring the final score to 36-0.

The Big Green would have a much better opening, and much better go of it overall, in their next game against McGill. Where they had been stifled by the Queen’s defense the day before, Dartmouth was able to move the ball well against the Redmen. Dartmouth was especially effective when they were able to get it with pace to their speedy back three, who in turn created several line breaks. The team was able to open the scoring this way, as center Owen Scannell, Dartmouth Class of 2013 was able to hit Hughes, who took it from around the 22-meter line into the try zone to give The Big Green a 5-0 lead.

Hughes would strike again about ten minutes later, once again burning the McGill defenders on the edge to increase the advantage to 10-0. He would finish off the hat trick five minutes later, and would add on the conversion for good measure to make it 17-0. All in all, Hughes was far and away the best player of the day, tallying 22 of the team’s points (three tries, two conversions, one penalty). “It felt great,” Hughes said when asked about his performance after the game. “After yesterday’s loss, it was important for the team to turn around and perform better today. I was really happy to be able to help do that and we got the result we wanted. Hopefully we can build on this and get a winning streak together.”

While McGill was able to respond only a few minutes later with a converted penalty to make the score 17-3, the outcome of the game once would again be put out of question right before halftime. Except this time, it was the Big Green who put the game away, as prop Lawrence Anfo-Whyte, Dartmouth Class of 2013, burst through the McGill defense on a set strike move from a lineout and took it the distance to bring the lead to 24-3. That lead would prove too big to come back from for the Redmen. Although they would score two tries in the second half, good defense from Dartmouth, along with a Hughes penalty and a try by wing Kevin Clark, Dartmouth Class of 2014, would be enough to let The Big Green hold on for the 32-15 win.

Dartmouth will next be in action Saturday, Sept. 10th as they host the Granite State Cup in Hanover. The one-day tournament will see the Big Green’s 1st and 2nd XV sides taking on college teams from all over New Hampshire and Vermont. The action will kick off at 9 am at the Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, located at 9 Reservoir Road in Hanover, 1.8 miles north of the Hanover Inn, off of Lyme Road.

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