Failing to hold lead against Navy, rugby drops matchup

by Manisha Apte | 4/17/11 10:00pm

Correction Appended

Despite holding the lead at halftime, the Dartmouth men's rugby team was sunk by a determined United States Naval Academy in a 27-10 loss, marking the team's fifth College Premier Division game of the season. An early penalty and first-half try put the Big Green up 10-5 at the half, but a strong Navy (5-0, Rugby East) forward line proved too much for Dartmouth (2-3, Rugby East), as it scored four successive tries in the second half, also securing bonus points. Navy remains undefeated in the Premier Division.

"I think we were a little bit frustrated because we put in a lot of hard work and did two or three things wrong, and that's the game," head coach Alexander Magleby said. "But we can compete in this league, and the boys can have a lot of pride in that."

Dartmouth succumbed to injuries before and during the match, losing co-captain Nick Downer '11 on Friday and the three starting backs.

Another starting forward was taken out in the first five minutes, but not before the Big Green put points on the board after just three minutes of play, as halfback Derek Fish '12 kicked for the team's three-point penalty.

The match started with choppy possession from both sides, as each resorted to long kicks to the opposing team's back line. While Navy managed to hold possession near its end shortly after, it could not convert its efforts to a try, and Dartmouth responded to Navy's failure with a try at the 20 minute mark from prop Charlie Grant '11. The try, scored off a long driving run through imposing Navy players, was secured after obtaining possession from a lineout in which loose forward Preet Gurusamy '11 managed to smack the ball to his teammates.

Grant received the ball after a series of team passes and drove down the middle of the field through Navy's back line. The subsequent conversion kick put Dartmouth up 10-0, marking its largest lead of the game.

Navy initiated a series of tries eight minutes later, as a slow, continuous buildup of ruck formations brought the team closer to the end line. Ultimately, Dartmouth could not hold off the opposing forward line, as Navy overpowered the Big Green for a try but missed the following conversion kick. Dartmouth had a chance to increase its lead after a 37th-minute foul, but squandered it, as Fish could not convert.

The score going into halftime remained 10-5, but nine minutes into the second half, Navy powered through to claim its first of four tries.

The Big Green gave up more penalties and allowed Navy to control the pace of play with longer possession periods.

"Navy had about a 10-minute run of play that stemmed from those [Dartmouth] penalties, and that was the switch in the game," Magleby said. "They have a very athletic forward attack, and we allowed them to march into our territory and take advantage of that."

Navy's efforts were awarded with a series of tries beginning in the 16th minute, allowing it to take the lead at 15-10.

A 26th-minute advancement from the middle to the left flank gave Navy its third try of the half, while a breakaway just four minutes later ended scoring for the match, leaving the final tally at 27-10.

Navy's long spell of possession fatigued the Big Green, as defending for long period of time is harder than attacking, Magleby said.

Dartmouth will now face off on Saturday against Ohio State University (0-5, Rugby East) which remains winless in the Premier Division after getting demolished by the United States Military Academy at West Point (5-0, Rugby East) in a 57-15 loss.

"They are a young team this year, but rugby in the high school there is a big deal, so a lot of good players are coming out from there," Magleby said. "The advantage we'll have is experience, but they're getting better each week."

The Big Green has only two remaining games in the Premier Division. The Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s will take place June 4-5 on Lincoln Memorial Field in Philadelphia, P.a.

Dartmouth is scheduled to take on Ohio State this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Brophy Field.

**The original version of this article appeared in print with the headline "Failing to hold lead against Navy, rugby fifth straight." The headline was, in fact, incorrect, as the team has not lost five games in a row.*

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