Strong Season-Opening Win vs. Cornell

[Photos courtesy of Sam Baker available HERE]
Following a strong pre-season and great recruiting efforts by our returning players (bringing in 20 eager first year players), our team turned its focus to the annual Claret Mug match and keeping it in Hamilton for the fourth year in a row.  With 3 of our leaders (Clay McKee ’18, Mike Rasmussen ’19, and Ewan Ferguson ’21) unable to suit up yet, we were able to award a few younger players there first collegiate rugby cap.  This didn’t stop these three from making an impact as they were active throughout the day relaying information to the players on the field, making sure the reserves were ready to go when they stepped on the pitch, and providing water for the team after a try!  We were also in great hands with Terry Haas ’73 making it back to campus to take up the whistle as the sir for this match.
From the first kick-off, Cornell was able to take control of the ball and put together a few phases inside of our 22m.  Luckily for us, our tackling was strong in this match which allowed us to keep the Cornell attack under control.  A few minutes into the match, we were able to gain possession of the ball and work several phases together.  After a penalty, at the 15th minute Billy Bingo ’19 took advantage of the slow retreating Cornell defensive line and dot down the first try of the match (Cris Kusner ’20 converted).  On the ensuing kick-off, we struggled to gather and clear our lines and Cornell took advantage.  For the next 10 minutes both teams would work their attack only to be slowed down by ball handling errors.  In the 33rd minute, fly-half Ben Moore ’19 spotted space in the defensive line and slip through with a strong run, dotting down a try under the posts (Kusner converts).  The kick-off was much smoother this time around and within a couple of phases, Moore was able to slip through another gap in the defensive line for his second try of the game (Kusner converts).  This would end the scoring for the first half with Colgate jumping on top early.  First Half scores:  Cornell 0  Colgate 21.
We would start the second half much like we finished the first half by putting pressure on the Cornell defensive line.  This pressure would pay off with Peter Bertone ’20 picking and going from the back of the ruck and dotting down for a try (Kusner missed the conversion).  Cornell started implementing a kicking game at this point and did a good job of putting our wings and fullback under pressure.  Luckily Joe Werthan ’20, Benji Pratley ’20, and Austin Hatch ’18 did a good job of supporting each other and launching several counter-attacks.  Unfortunately their work was not rewarded after a few missed tackles and good ball movement, Cornell was able to dot down their first try of the game at the 64th minute (not converted).  Things would pick-up for Colgate as the players raised the intensity.  In the 75th minute, after putting several phases together Will Baker ’20 was able to dot down his first career try after crashing through the defensive line (Kusner converts).  This was followed up with Adrian Heath ’19 taking advantage of a slow retreating defense after a penalty dotting down his try under the post (Kusner converted) at the 80th minute.  At the final whistle, Colgate was able to retain the Claret Mug for the fourth year in a row!  Final Score:  Cornell 5  Colgate 40.
Unfortunately due to travel conflicts, Cornell was unable to provide a development side for a second match.  This did not stop us from having an intrasquad match that saw 20 first years getting a live run.  Under the watchful eyes of our sir Tim Burdick, the massive amount of experience was gained throughout the afternoon.
With the strong performance, we looked forward to kicking off our Liberty Conference this weekend against Binghamton University.  We are still awaiting confirmation of kick-off (either 12pm or 2pm).  Once we receive confirmation, we can provide this information through our FB page.  One of the requirements for our league is to post all our conference matches onto Youtube immediately following the match.  Once the conference page is set-up, we will make sure to pass along this information so that everyone will have access to our matches.
Roster v Cornell University (Claret Mug)
1) Mike Vitale ’19
2) Billy Bingo ’19
3) Will Pitkin ’19
4) Jack McPhail ’20
5) Will Baker ’20
6) Adrian Belvitt ’20
7) Dorian Washington ’19
8) Pete Bertone ’20
9) Cris Kusner ’20
10) Ben Moore ’19
11) Austin Hatch ’18
12) Adrian Heath ’19
13) Andrew Jahns ’20
14) Benji Pratley ’20
15) Joe Werthan ’20
– Jack Johnson ’21 for Vitale [55th minute]
– Drew Jimenez ’21 for McPhail [55th minute]
– Junaid Mahmood ’21 for Jahns [65th minute]
– James Nash ’21 for Belvitt [70th minute]
– Sam Wittmann ’20 for Bingo [72nd minute]
– Dillon Forester ’20 for Washington [72nd minute]
– Ben Pelino ’21 for Hatch [75th minute]
Moore = 2
Baker, Bertone, Bingo, and Heath = 1 try a piece
Kusner = 5/6 conversions
Final Score:  Cornell University 5  Colgate University 40
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