The long bus ride did not deter the Northeastern University Huskies when they faced off against UMass Amherst this past Saturday. On the contrary, the Maddog was hungry for its first win of the season, and it would be fed. A final score of 27-5 in favor of Northeastern indicated a team that has begun to find its groove and showcase some fantastic young talent.
The tone was set early when a UMass crash ball in the centers was ended by a crushing tackle from the Maddog 10 and 12. This early show of physicality was indicative of the style of rugby the Huskies were determined to play. Only two minutes into the game, a cheeky blindside take by the Northeastern Fly Half Julian Bongrain would lead to a try down the sideline for the speedy wing Aaron Reich converted by standout hooker and kicker Chris Laughlin.
Both teams would trade penalties and scrums, until some quick hands through the backs led to outside center Kevin Hill bursting through the defensive line and sidestepping the UMass fullback on his way to into the try zone. Unconverted, 12-0 Huskies. Keeping up the pressure, the Maddog spent the next few minutes in the UMass half of the field, refusing to give any ground to the Minutemen. As the boys from NU drove down the field, they seemed to get stuck at the try line, until Middler Matt Murphy picked weak side off a ruck and dove in for the try. Unconverted, 17-0 Huskies.
A number of foolish gave UMass possession for an extended period of time. The Maddog, however, is known for its tenacity on defense. What the opponent did not understand is that Northeastern Rugby cuts its teeth on stubbornly refusing to give an inch. The boys eventually turned the ball over and a scrum in UMass territory led to hands through the centers and 13 Kevin Hill beautifully drawing two defenders before offloading to the big wing, Chris Frazier for the try. 22-0 Maddog going into the half.
Matt Murphy would set the tone for the second half with a crushing tackle on the kickoff. After the half, the team was able to make a number of substitutions, showcasing its depth in both the forwards and backs, and did not ease up on the intensity. UMass scored an unconverted try early in the second half to make the score 5-22, but the Dogs were not done yet. Early in the second half, a big hit at the UMass goal line by inside center Aaron Smith led to a turnover and Husky ball. After driving down the goal line, Northeastern called the big prop Jared Veruto’s number and he executed a flawless dive after driving through a defender to put the Huskies up 27-5. A rain shower would slow the game down and force both teams to play tight rugby, but the Maddogs kept up the hammering and ended the day with a final score of 27-5.
Congratulations to Men of the Match Diego Maquieira and Aaron Smith!
The B side put in a spirited effort in a loss to the UMass B side, with a number of players in their first ever season of rugby stepping up and making some big plays.
Make sure to come out this Saturday as we take on Middlebury Rugby at 1pm!
As always, GO NU!