Monday, March 3, 2014

The Mount Beats Lord Fairfax in first NSCRO Spring Playoff Match

Special report by Steve Cohen, NSCRO President

The NSCRO spring playoffs have begun. The weather cooperated in Middletown, VA - the home of Lord Fairfax Community College - which stands at the gateway to Skyline Drive leading to the Blue Ridge Mountains. After the winter we've had in the Mid-Atlantic area, cooperation is no rain or snow and above freezing temperature. It was a dry day with temperature in the low 40s.  It was a 225 mile drive for me from Medford, NJ to attend this match. 
I was there to support the efforts of Aaron Painter and Stuart Freakly, coaches of the Lord Fairfax CC rugby club, who in less than 3 years have built a fine rugby team and created a strong foundation for the future at a community college. Very few rugby clubs exist at community colleges due to the challenges of a very non-traditional student population.

Lord Fairfax CC, the Cardinals Collegiate Conference Champion, was scheduled to host the Mount St. Mary's University, the Potomac Collegiate Conference Champion, from nearby Emmitsburg, Maryland in a NSCRO Mid-Atlantic South Region Qualifier. The winner would qualify for the MAS Region Championship in Jacksonville, Florida on March 29-30 hosted by the University of North Florida RFC. 
St. Marys Team Photo (Credit: NSCRO) 

Jay Myles, the Mount's Head Coach was concerned about match readiness for his players. Both teams have had a rough time preparing due to the unusually harsh winter conditions making outdoor pre-playoff matches impossible.


The match started and the Mount went to work right away with strong mauling and ball control when center Edmund Piper made a line break for 30m and passed to winger Brady Parson to put his club up 5-0 with just 4 minutes gone. About 10 minutes later, second rower David Harrison scored from a driving maul off a lineout. Then 2 minutes after this score, another driving maul by The Mount freed scrumhalf Sean Hartig for a fine 30m run and with his conversion, the Mount was off to a quick 17-0 lead. Tyler Long broke the Mount's defense and scored and with the conversion Chance Ramey slotted the conversion, it was 17-7. However, the Mount answered with 3 more first half tries taking a solid 32-7 halftime lead. The second half found Lord Fairfax picking up the pace and mounted an attack deep into the Mount's end when Renber Hernandez broke through the defense for a try just 3 minutes into the half. Then only 5 minutes later Derrick Hayes found a gap in the normally stingy Mount defense for a try and all of a sudden the score was 32-17. With the momentum favoring Lord Fairfax, the Mount woke up and began to assert themselves. They add 3 tries in the final 20 minutes to pull away with a 49-17 win when referee Simon Smith's final whistle sounded.

Full details about NSCRO and its small college national playoffs are found at www.nscro.org.

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