Match Report – Navy (02/28/16)
Annapolis, MD – Dartmouth Rugby made the long haul drive to Annapolis this past weekend to play Navy in a friendly for the second time this year. The previous time the two teams met, Navy emerged the victors, winning the game 55 – 29. However, the game this past weekend brought a closer battle, with Navy edging out Dartmouth 29 – 21.
When asked to comment on the game, Coach Hickie responded, “Losing is always tough, especially in tight games against great opponents like the U.S. Naval Academy, but this is our preseason for the coming months and from that perspective, we can take a lot of positives from our performance. One big positive is that three Big Green footballers played their first game of rugby, contributed to the team and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “
“The squad has been working very hard over the winter term and the coaching staff is content with where we are in this process. We will look to build on this start with another tough game against Army.”
The game started poorly for Dartmouth as they conceded multiple penalties and turnovers, resulting in Navy establishing a quick 19 points on the board. At first, the Big Green’s scrum and lineout seemed to also be suffering, which was perhaps not helped by the limited outdoor practice time allowed to the team throughout winter term. However, just when things started to look bleak, Ollie Engelhart ’18 forced a turnover and passed the ball to Captain Jack Braun ’16 who made a valiant line-break before offloading to Hayden Aldredge ’17 in support who then shipped the ball to debut player and former football team running back, Kyle Bramble ’16. Bramble darted into the try zone and before placing the ball to the ground, was on the receiving end of a high tackle which ultimately led to a penalty try and a yellow card for Navy in the closing minutes of the first half.
The second half started much more fluidly for Dartmouth and while set piece operations were still somewhat shaky, the team dominated open play, running strong offensive phases and tackling more accurately in defense. Many strong tackles from Braun, Engelhart, Erik Warnquist ’16, Phil Sheridan '16, and other debut players Will Konstant ’16 and Will McNamara ’16 led to turnovers that the Big Green was able to capitalize on. This domination led to a try from Aldredge after receiving an offload from John Abraham ’16 who had sped down the side of the field. A successful conversion made the game 19-14. Soon after the restart, the Big Green was camped out at Navy’s goal line running multiple phases successfully before Konstant, with help from McNamara in support, punctured the Navy defensive line and scored a try that tied the game up. A successful conversion a minute later brought the Big Green two points above Navy, leaving the score 21 – 19 with ten minutes remaining on the clock. Unfortunately, these points turned out to be the last for the Big Green as an ambitious, but successful penalty kick and a last minute Navy try brought on by a Dartmouth penalty led to a final score of 29 – 21.
Captain Jack Braun kindly offered his remarks after the game, saying, “It was a tight game that was very promising on our end especially with 3 guys who had never played a game in their life. We are looking to get a faster start against Army next weekend and fix up our set piece but besides that it was a great start to the season and a definite improvement on our preseason performance against Navy in the fall.”