Over the past nine months, the Dartmouth Rugby first XV has had a pretty good run, winning an Ivy Rugby conference championship, capturing the league’s automatic bid to the 2012 Emirates Airline USA Rugby Men’s Division I-AA National Championship, and advancing all the way to the final four of that tournament. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and for the Big Green that end came Friday. Despite putting up a good fight, the team lost to a strong Davenport side 35-18 to close their season. It was their first loss in any competition since being beaten by Army in a pre-season friendly in September.
Things began promisingly for the Big Green, as they were first to score after some i, physical back and forth play in the early minutes. After great run by wing Kevin Clark ’14, fullback Madison Hughes took the subsequent offload and went for the try to give Dartmouth a 5-0 lead. The Panthers didn’t take that development lying down though, as they responded with a try of their own a minute later to tie the game. But once again Hughes would be there to push the Big Green back in front, knocking through a penalty about 20 minutes in to make the score 8-5. The team would continue their good play about five minutes later, as Clark jetted down the wing after a great run from center Derek Fish ’12 for a try. The following conversion from Hughes gave Dartmouth their biggest lead of the day at 15-5.
Unfortunately, it was at this point that Davenport began launching a successful comeback. They were able to make a penalty to cut the lead to 15-11 before half and they only continued to cause troubles for the Big Green after the break. They quickly netted a try and conversion to go up 18-15 and never looked back. Another try extended their advantage to 23-15 before Hughes reeled them back in a little, converting on a penalty to make the score 23-18.
Davenport would come right back though, capitalizing off a sloppy pass from Dartmouth inside their own 22 to get a try and conversion to go up 30-18. Dartmouth would continue to pound the ball deep in their opponent’s territory despite the deficit, but the Panthers defense proved more than up to the challenge forcing some untimely passes and handling errors in the Big Green attack. As a result, the Big Green could never finish their comeback in earnest. Davenport would eventually be rewarded for their hard work, scoring another try right before full time to make the final score 35-18.
With their XVs season now wrapped up, Dartmouth will turn all its focus to the upcoming USA Sevens College Rugby Championship. The tournament will be June 2-3rd at PPL Park outside Philadelphia, home of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, and will feature 15 other of the best rugby programs in the nation. The Big Green will enter the tournament as defending champions after beating Army 32-10 in last year’s final. Those who haven’t already bought tickets can do so at http://www.usasevenscrc.com/event-tickets/tickets/. Meanwhile, those who would like to watch but can’t make it to Philly can follow the action on NBC and the NBC Sports Network, which will be providing live coverage throughout the weekend.
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