Rugby battles in tournament play

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

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04.12.11.sports.wrugby
by Zach Ingbretsen and Zach Ingbretsen / The Dartmouth

The women's team traveled to Princeton University, where it captured an easy win over Cornell University, but fell in a 17-15 last-minute loss to Princeton. The Big Green went on to defeat Yale University in a consolation match, overcoming the Bulldogs, 29-5.

The Dartmouth men's team started its weekend campaign with a scrappy finish as it battled the Scarlet Knights to a tight victory, despite leading at the half, 29-5. It followed its win at the 7's Championships, hosted by Columbia University on Sunday.

Dartmouth used a team-wide effort in Saturday's match, as five different Big Green players secured a try. By scoring more than four tries in the match, the team also won bonus points.

"It was a good win for us, because Rutgers is a very strong team," men's team head coach Alexander Magleby said. "On the national premier level of competition, it was a big challenge, since we are undersized and Rutgers has a physical presence, so I was really pleased to win the match."

Paul Jarvis '12 opened scoring for the Big Green with a try that gave Dartmouth a 5-0 lead, although the team did not score in the follow-up conversion. After a penalty kick from Derek Fish '12, Rutgers followed with its first try to narrow the score to 8-5. Three successive tries from co-captain Nick Downer '11, Nate Brakeley '12 and Ian Hogg '11 allowed the Big Green to regain a solid lead at the half.

"Rutgers has a huge forward pack and they use their forwards pretty effectively, and our forwards did a good job of checking their strengths in the first half," Downer said.

The Scarlet Knights entered the second half with newfound resilience, jostling with the Big Green to close the scoring margin. An immediate try and conversion brought Rutgers closer at 29-12. After Bill Lehmann '12 secured the Big Green's fifth try, Rutgers attempted to rally with three late tries before the final whistle.

"In the second half we were very undone mentally and physically, and we had to work very hard," Magleby said. "Luckily the boys pulled through at the end and we are certainly very happy."

The women's team shut out the Big Red, 46-0, in the League Championships on Saturday.

Fullback Dani Valdes '13 opened scoring for Dartmouth and secured a hat trick. Up 17-0 at the break, the Big Green more than doubled its lead in the second half, when Molly Manning '12 provided the half's first try after a 50-meter sprint.

Despite edging out Cornell by only two points in the team's meeting last fall, Dartmouth capitalized on its scoring chances and conversion attempts to dominate the match.

Competing in a back-to-back match schedule, the Big Green women quickly followed up its win with a tough match against Princeton. Dartmouth led at the half, 10-7, but was not able to hold on for the victory.

Ashley Afrani-Sakyi '13 produced the team's two first-half tries, but subsequent conversion misses gave Princeton a chance to catch up.

Maddy Sturm '13 scored a try in the second half after Valdes took advantage of a handling error, but another conversion miss kept Dartmouth's lead at 15-12.

With only stoppage time remaining, the Tigers clawed their way back. Princeton secured the ball and raced down the field for a try.

The loss dropped Dartmouth out of the championship match, which women's team president Melanie Pastuck '11 said was a disappointment for the team.

The team was able to bounce back the next day to beat Yale, as Afrani-Sakyi nabbed a hat trick and Meg Thorn '11 secured two tries.

The men's rugby team took on League opponents on Sunday, placing third in the 7's Championship. Dartmouth brought both A and B-side teams but, after a tough game against Rutgers, fatigue played a big role in the Big Green's subpar performance.

"Our guys are exhausted right now, but it was really about grinding through it," Magleby said. "We played eight matches today as a club and that's a lot of rugby especially considering the physical match before."

Rugby 7's uses the same dimensions as a regular rugby field, but seven players compete on each team, instead of the usual 15. The format calls for more mental strength, as well as increased running and passing and an overall different kind of fitness, Magleby said.

After a few days of rest, the men's team will prepare to take on the United States Naval Academy on Saturday in its first home game of Spring term. Navy is currently undefeated and competes alongside Dartmouth in the Premier Division.

The women will face the University of Massachusetts which it beat, 54-5, in October at home. To prepare for the match and the Division I National Tournament later this month, the Big Green will work on improving its technical execution, Pastuck said.

The women's team will play UMass at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Hanover, while the men's team will battle Navy at 1 p.m.

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