Men's rugby drops second straight game, losing to Army

by Manisha Apte | 4/3/11 10:00pm

The Dartmouth men's rugby team could not withstand the United States' Military Academy at West Point's powerful offensive effort on Saturday, losing to the Black Knights, 32-23.

Co-captain Chris Downer '11 secured a hat trick, providing Dartmouth (1-2 Rugby East) with the team's only tries of the match. Army (2-0 Rugby East) started both halves down, but responded quickly with successive tries, ending the match with four in total. Two late-game penalties cushioned Army's lead, while the Big Green struggled to maintain its form.

"We were pretty disappointed, but we played well for probably 30 minutes in the game," co-captain Nick Downer '11 said. "In an 80-minute game, that's not good enough to win."

The Big Green was the first team to strike, as halfback Derek Fish '12 kicked to make it 3-0. The Knights responded with two tries but could only capitalize off of one conversion kick, bringing the score to 12-3.

Wing Chris Downer closed the gap after nabbing his first try soon after, and Fish ended the half with a long kick to grab Dartmouth the lead going into halftime.

"We did hard work to get into position to do very good things," head coach Alexander Magleby said. "But we didn't take advantage of many of the opportunities we created, and there were cases where the last two or three people didn't execute their job."

The Big Green's hopes of stretching its lead were quickly trodden, as the Knights again took charge and scored two tries. Chris Beck scored his early on in the half, and a second soon followed to put Army back in the lead at 26-13.

"We certainly did enough to go into halftime with the lead, but they came out and scored in the first two minutes," Nick Downer said. "It took too much time for us to find our bearings in the second half, and we gave them too many opportunities."

This match marks the Big Green's third in the newly-formed College Premier Division conference, in which the team is facing bigger schools with strong rugby programs.

Dartmouth opened the season with a win against the University of Delaware, but could not repeat its success in a tight 22-19 loss to Pennsylvania State University.

Despite Dartmouth's loss against Army, its effort was an improvement from its performance in the Penn State game, Nick Downer said.

"For us, this is a huge challenge to get up to speed against more competitive teams," Magleby said. "The teams are all very good, but it's a fun challenge, and we all look forward to it."

The Big Green will stay on the road and take on Rutgers University next Saturday in New Jersey. Dartmouth last played Rutgers in a friendly match last year but lost the matchup, Magleby said.

Rutgers is currently in last place in the standings, while Army and Navy are the only two teams to remain undefeated. Still, the Scarlet Knights' low rank does not make them an easy opponent, Nick Downer said.

"Rutgers has a really big forward pack, so we want to be preparing our forwards for that, and they also have really strong mauls off the line-outs," he said. "We're going to spend a lot of our time watching their game and figuring out how they play."

Dartmouth will have to prepare for a busy schedule, as immediately after the Rutgers match the team will travel to New York to participate in the Ivy 7's Championship. As 2011 Ivy League Champions, the Big Green will be returning to more familiar territory.

"This is our bread and butter against [League] teams," Magleby said. "We're talking about teams that we're on the same page with in terms of commitment and everything else. There is a lot more space in 7's, with smaller athletes usually, and it's a really fun game."

Dartmouth will travel to Rutgers on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 3 p.m. The team will also participate in the 7's on Baker Field in New York on Sunday.

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