Charles River Rugby Men vs Newport Rugby
August 24th, 2013, 12pm
Joe Moakley Field, Boston, MA
Match Details: The Charles River Rats kicked off their 40th fall season with a hard-fought, closely contested match with Newport RFC. Leading into the match, Head Coach Paul Clemens and Captain Ricky Friberg faced a complex puzzle…setting the starting line-up, due to the number of regular starters missing for the Rats. Thanks to some emergency recruiting, the Rats had the numbers to field a full side with substitutes, unlike the last time Newport visited Moakley Park.
The Rats received the opening kickoff and set the aggressive tone that Coach Clemens demanded through last season. Throughout the first half, the starting backline played superb as they delivered crisp passes to each other and provided ruck support. The forward pack made incredible leaps of improvement in scrums, evident by the powerful push that locks Mark Cassidy and Wes Page provided for the first 20 minutes of the match.
Within the first ten minutes of the game, the Rats were threatening to score the match’s first points, however an offensive miscommunication between forwards halted the Rats’ offensive progress. During the prior two weeks, Coach Clemens installed a new offensive set for the forwards that would exploit defensive holes near offensive breakdowns. The expected returns of the new offense did not materialize for the following reasons:
- Too many forwards committed to securing the ruck, which did not give scrum-half Mike Fair the necessary numbers to run the plays Coach Clemens hoped to see.
- As a group, the forwards did not have the fitness to reach the necessary landmarks to put the offense in motion after one phase.
Coach Clemens commented after the game the forwards must use their off-days to increase their fitness via cardio training. Also, he lamented the lack of players at training did not give the starting pack a practice opposition to work out the offensive kinks.
Fifteen minutes in the half, Newport scored the game’s first try as they took advantage of a few turnovers by the Rats. Even though Newport scored, the Rats made their opponents earn it as they stopped multiple advances to the try zone but Newport exploited a slight Channel 1 hole to take the early lead, 7-0. Unlike last season, the Rats felt determined, not discouraged, to even up the score. The backline instantly drove the ball near Newport’s try zone, in fact the Rats did enter the try zone, but Newport held the ball up to prevent the score. An uneasy scrum gave Newport the opportunity to kick the ball away from their try zone; however fullback Zack Cox and wing Maxine Silvera showcased a beautiful counter-attack, helping the Rats regain a majority of the territory lost on the kick. A Newport penalty inside the 22-meter line gave Outside Center Jerry Kenneally a chance to put the Rats on the board via penalty kick, cutting the deficit, 7-3. For the rest of the 1st half, both teams traded scoring opportunities; however it was the Rats who held a majority of them, but Newport’s defensive line did not give the Rats’ backline enough space to make a breakaway run. It was a rare occurrence when Newport decided to counter-ruck; instead they conceded the rucks to spread their defense across the field.
During halftime, Coach Clemens was impressed with the aggressiveness the Rats displayed, as there were few missed tackled and some hard running, especially from Kenneally, Inside Center Corey Lang and Flanker Karim Babble. However, Coach Clemens was concerned that a number of the starters were showing discouraging signs of fatigue, he hoped to save his substitutes for the last twenty minutes of the match, but the situation required him to accelerate his personnel changes.
The Rats stole the 2nd half kickoff as Cassidy and Flanker Greg Babbin forced a Newport knock-on. Throughout the game, Babbin displayed great intensity and field awareness, which provided temporary inspiration to the rest of the forwards. It seemed the Rats would take the lead as Fly Half Ricky Friberg broke the Newport defensive line, but he was tackled one yard shy of the try zone, he tried to stealthy move the ball into the try zone, however the referee caught his devious act and stopped play. The Rats attempted to score from the ensuing scrum; however Newport forced a turnover, stopping the Rats best chance to seize control of the scoreboard. Another turnover from the Rats’ counter-attack gave Newport a great chance to extend their lead; however Silvera made the tackle of the game as he up-ended the ball carrier, forcing Newport to slow down their offense. During Newport’s methodical march, the Rats were guilty of a penalty; Newport elected to kick for points, which lead to some controversy. The ensuing sailed over the outside half of the post, since the Newport’s touch judge was covering that side, the kick was called good, extending Newport’s lead, 10-3.
The Rats tried to steal the kickoff again, but the kick was a little too deep for the chasers. It was during this time that a few key starters were hampered by tight muscles and fatigue; however Coach Clemens did not have necessary depth to provide the fresh legs at those positions. Both teams traded possessions between the 22-meter lines, but neither one seemed to gain any significant territory, until Newport noticed that the Rats left the weak side undermanned. Despite a key tackle by Cox, Newport scored their second try of the game thanks to their support running. After the conversion kick, the Newport led 17-3.
Determined not to give up, the Rats mounted their best offensive attack with 15 minutes left in the match. Mike Fair picked up significant territory for the Rats off a “pick-and-go,” the rest of the backline and a couple of forwards were in hot pursuit, hoping to cut the lead. Newport managed to slow down the Rats, but the forwards arrived in time to provide enough ruck support to allow the backs to make their final, necessary push as Kenneally scored in the corner of the try zone with just under 10 minutes left in the match. The angle of the conversion was too extreme for Kenneally, but the Rats had a legitimate chance to steal the game, making the score 17-8.
During the last ten minutes of the game, the Rats were running on fumes, which led to severe mental mistakes on both offense and defense. With five minutes left in the match, Newport iced the game with a nifty 15-meter run, making the final score 22-8.
After the game, Coach Clemens noted that his players showed tremendous heart and improvement, however he pointed out that the Rats lost due to lack of fitness. It seemed that too many Rats displayed “oxygen deficiency” during key moments, which contributed to the number of missed scoring chances the Rats had.
FINAL SCORE: Rats 8, Newport RFC 22
|Alec “Ox” Tolivaisa
|Mark “The Kid” Cassidy
|Wes “Mantooth” Page
|Dave “Andre” Bloom
|Jeff “The Neutralizer” Garner
|“President” Mike Fair
|Ricky Friberg ©
|Tommy “Buffalo” Chang
|#12 Inside Center
|Corey “A or B” Lang
|#13 Outside Center
|Jerry “Drainpipe” Kenneally
|Adam “Kitchen” McKellar
|“Wee” Pat Cavallario, Chery D’orochild
|Zack “For Sale” Cox
Men of the Match:
- Backs: Zack Cox. The UNH graduate played a near perfect game at fullback for the Rats as he stopped every breakaway run by Newport and provided an outstanding counter-attack for all of Newport’s kicks. Another highlight for Cox was his kicks found open areas that slowed down any chance of a Newport counter-attack. It seems that the Rats have finally found a worthy successor to Jerry Kenneally in the fullback position.
- Forwards: Mark Cassidy. Thanks to his athleticism and fearless persona, Cassidy often put his 6’4” body on the line for the Rats. Traditionally, locks weigh-in at 200+ pounds and do not move well around the field, Cassidy shuttered both of those stereotypes against Newport as he covered the entire field to make tackles and receive passes from Fair and other backs.
Honorable Mentions: Maxine Silvera, Greg Babbin, Jerry Kenneally, Corey Lang, Ricky Friberg, Mike Fair
Orange Whips Match
Match Details: Since neither team could provide a decent amount of B-side players, it was decided by both teams to play rolling 10-minute halves to incite the necessary of A-side players to extend their rugby day for just a little longer. The first half belonged to the Whips, as Inside Center Adam McKellar and Outside Center Tommy Chang broke Newport’s line multiple times. At half-time, the Whips led 10-0. During the second half, Newport got their offense in gear and scored two tries of their own, one of which happened on the last play of the game. The decided kick sailed through the uprights giving Newport a clean sweep of Charles River on the day.
FINAL SCORE: Whips 10, Newport RFC 12
Rats Scoring Table
The Rats have a bye-week during Labor Day weekend. The weekend after that the Rats travel to Saratoga, NY. Last season, Saratoga RFC reached the National Final Four for Division III; however the Rats will look to give them a proper introduction to Division II rugby.
 Switched to 8-man when Charlie Powers entered the game. Matthews moved to flanker
 The referee was playing advantage, so it was a good gamble by Friberg.
 Since nearly every Rat played in both the A-game and B-game, it was decided to split the honors between a forward and a back.
 Since Ricky was refereeing the game, the halves were deliberately stretched out to 15-minutes.