Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tech rugby team finishes fall season with 16-3 record

by Dave Wheelock
Tech Rugby Coach

The final margin may not show it, but the New Mexico Tech Rugby Club's 47 - 27 win over New Mexico State University in Las Cruces Saturday was a hard slog all the way. But while the Chiles enjoyed the lion's share of ball possession, the Pygmies once again rode their phenomenal long-range scoring talents to victory. Tech scored seven five-point tries to State's four, with all but one of the breakaway Pygmy scores grounded between the goalposts to provide easy two-point conversion kicks.
New Mexico Tech finished the fall campaign with a record 16 wins versus three losses. Two of those blemishes were in championship matches, 19-12 to the University of New Mexico in the Santa Fe Tens Tournament on September 6, and 13-7 at the hands of the Clovis Nomads at Albuquerque's High Desert Classic on October 18. The Pygmies went undefeated the weekend of October 3-4 to win the Northern Arizona Tens Tournament.
In still and cloudless conditions, most of the first half was played in Tech's territory. The hosts held the upper hand in the scrums and stole the ball away several times in open play. After five minutes, and against the run of play, NMT outside center Nick Aldape found a gap 10 meters from his own try line and streaked up the field. Wing James Fallt was there to take a pass and score 70 meters later as the cover defense closed in on Aldape. Dustin Webb drop-kicked the conversion for a 7-0 Tech lead.
Five minutes later Bart Hegarty scooped up a loose ball from his flanker position on the side of a scrum and passed to Fallt, who kicked ahead as he was tackled. Fullback Isaiah Sanchez raced forward to recover the ball and touched down another try converted by Webb to stretch Tech's lead to 14-0.
At fifteen minutes NMSU number eight forward Wes Woods ran a ball from the base of a scrum and crashed 15 meters to score. The conversion attempt by Alex Andrews was unsuccessful but soon the Chiles were back for another scrum put-in close to the Tech line.
The Chiles closed the halftime gap to 14-12 when flyhalf Farrakhan Mohammed sneaked across for a converted try.
Three minutes into the second half Aldape repeated his earlier feat with a long run up the left side, this time covering the entire distance himself.
Webb's conversion moved matters to 21-12. After eight minutes the Pygmies were penalized and Andrews drew the Chiles within 21-15 with a place kick from 30 meters.
Tech's forwards began to assert increasing pressure in open play and after an extended run of possession Dustin Webb got over the line for an unconverted try, NMT 26, NMSU 15. The Chiles kept it close at 26-20 seven minutes later when Tim Worley scored a heads up try in the corner from a quick tap and run on a penalty.
As both teams began to feel the fatigue of a hard-hitting match, Tech's backs took over as they had so often throughout the season. Flyhalf Royce Beaudry stepped through the first line of defense and linked with Sanchez, who streaked up the field before scoring from a high-speed give and go with mobile lock forward Jerod Aragon. Shortly after, Jay Herrera, playing in his last match as a New Mexico Tech undergrad, made a break and fed Sanchez for his second long-range try in five minutes. Webb converted both tries to make it 40-20 in favor of Tech.
Seven minutes from full time the Chiles brought the ball into a driving maul close to Tech's line and Wes Woods scored his second try with a burst through the middle. Andrews' kick was good for a 40-27 Chile deficit.
In the 79th minute Beaudry made another slicing break and carried 50 meters before passing off to Aldape to score Tech's last try of the fall season. Webb provided the conversion to bring the final score to New Mexico Tech 47, New Mexico State 27.
Tight forward Max Crowning was named Man of the Match by his Tech teammates. The Pygmies now turn their attentions to off-season conditioning while finishing the academic semester. Outdoor practice sessions resume on the first day of spring semester classes February 19, 2010.

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