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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Men's rugby ready for playoffs after shutting out Brown

In their last conference game of the 2002 fall season, the members of the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club made a statement to future playoff opponents: the DRFC is not ready to quit.

On a field crusted with ice and snow and with sheets of rain falling through the 40-degree October air, Dartmouth dominated a young Brown side, allowing Brown only two minutes of total possession inside the DRFC 50-meter line throughout the game.

Slicing through the mud with determination, Dartmouth scored 22 points while shutting out Brown. It was Dartmouth's first shutout of the season, and the victory has given the team tremendous momentum entering the postseason.

The muddy conditions did not allow for either team to gain an advantage in the scrum. For the first time this season, Dartmouth's pack actually outsized its opponent.

Ironically, Brown was the first team to quell the DRFC scrum's dominance, albeit with an assist from Mother Nature.

The lack of wind allowed Dartmouth to reassert its nearly flawless lineout execution, which had been below standard during the last few matches. As a result, Dartmouth secured most first-phase balls, despite the severe playing conditions.

Bogged down in the mud and slush, Dartmouth's breakaway back-line speed was held at bay, though not to Brown's credit. The backs consistently made the gain-line, but were unable to put moves on defenders for game-breaking runs.

The conditions demanded extra care be given to simple skills, especially catching and passing the ball, and as such the quick ball was not a weapon at the DRFC's disposal.

Adjusting to the conditions, Coach Magleby shuffled the line-up, placing several of the better-running forwards in the back-line, and allowing the fragile back line starters to watch on the sideline, gripping hand-warmers and gently lamenting the conditions.

Dartmouth's hard tackling and determined poaching made it hard for Brown to make any forward progress whatsoever. Clinging to a territorial kicking strategy, Brown seemed happy just keeping the score respectable.

The scoring commenced 10 minutes into the match when off of phase play, hooker Chris Vorys '03 initiated a switch at the Brown 22-m to winger Dan Correa '05.

Correa then juked a pass to Andrew Lusk '03, who drew two defenders, allowing Correa to send a spin pass to a looping fly-half Mickey Linchitz '02, who easily waltzed into the try-zone for the score. Mike Curley '04 converted the kick to make the score 7-0.

Overall the match saw determined DRFC rucking, as most possessions lost were due to poor presentation in the tackle, or dropped balls, but not from lack of support.

"I felt that I was motoring around the field pretty well," flanker Lex Hochner '03 said.

Putting constant pressure on the Brown defense, the DRFC scored again 10 minutes later. Off of a ruck into which scrum-half Curley had to commit, Vorys picked and jammed the ball through an enormous, 20-m wide hole right next to the ruck, and ran the ball 50-m to the Brown 22-m.

Running in support, eight-man Dave Hodapp '04 ripped the ball from Vorys in the tackle, stiff-armed a defender, and then dished the ball to a streaking center Michael Martinez '04, who outraced all defenders to the center of the try-zone. Curley again converted the kick, to make the score 14-0.

Finding the team at the Brown 22-m just a few minutes later, Curley opted to make the game a three-score affair, kicking in three points with just a few ticks left in the first half. At halftime, Dartmouth led 17-0.

"In those conditions, a 17-point halftime lead is pretty safe," flanker John Harlow '04 said.

The second half was a preview of great things to come, as several younger players made the most of seeing A-side time. Isaac Kardon '05, normally a flanker or prop, glistened at outside center, breaking several runs with powerful, cheeky moves not seen since the days of Kinkaid.

Djuro Petkovic '04 ran the offense smoothly at fly-half, making the Brown defense beg for the final whistle.

Coach Magleby commented on the younger players' efforts: "The Civil War came down to resilience and loyalty to a cause. I'd take any of those guys with me [into war] any day of the week. They displayed a tremendous spirit."

Dartmouth scored one more try in the second-half, Curley powering his way around a ruck at the Brown 5-m, and then missing the kick, to make the final tally 22-0.

With a regular season record of 5-2, Dartmouth travels to upstate New York this weekend to play an as-yet-undetermined foe in the first round of the playoffs.

Ben Annino is a senior member of the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club