Charleston Match Report - 5-1-10
Written by Quack   

Charleston Match Report - 5/1/10

NORFC 15 - Charleston 11

On May 1, 2010, New Orleans Rugby Football Club traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to take on Charleston Outlaws RFC in the South semifinals.  At stake in this “win-or-go-home” match were a berth in the South finals and, more importantly, a berth in the USA Rugby Round of 16.  Typically, a match of such magnitude is decided on a neutral pitch, and, technically, this match was played on a neutral pitch.  However, it was clear from the start that this was truly a road game for New Orleans, as hundreds of raucous Charleston supporters were within two feet of the pitch and created the most hostile environment experienced by New Orleans this season.  Despite this adversity, New Orleans would not be denied.  

After the toss of the coin, it was evident that a hostile environment was not the only obstacle New Orleans would have to overcome.  The Outlaws won the toss and elected to start the match with the very strong wind at their backs.  This decision certainly paid dividends for the Outlaws early on, as their scrum half repeatedly pinned New Orleans inside its 22 with high, wind-riding kicks to touch, thereby limiting New Orleans’ opportunities and increasing their own.  Despite the superior field position enjoyed by the Outlaws, handling errors and stiff defense stymied most opportunities on both sides of the ball in a rather uneventful first half of play.  At the half-time whistle, New Orleans trailed 3 – 0 by virtue of an Outlaws penalty.  

New Orleans entered the second half with optimism as the wind was now in its favor.  This optimistic outlook was short lived, however, as New Orleans was caught on its back foot 5 minutes into the second half as a result of an opportunistic play by an Outlaws’ wing.  Following the whistle for a penalty on New Orleans, the Outlaws’ wing snatched the ball and, after a quick tap, raced 30 meters, untouched, for the try, making the score 8 – 0 in favor of the Outlaws.  Another penalty on New Orleans shortly after the ensuing kickoff gave Charleston an opportunity to extend its lead, and the Outlaws’ fullback’s kick was true.  Now, down by 11 and with its back against the wall, New Orleans had to respond.  

With just over 25 minutes to play, New Orleans got its first scoring opportunity of the second half.  Several phases of crushing runs by the New Orleans forwards had New Orleans moving toward the Outlaws’ in-goal several yards at a time.  These runs, orchestrated by New Orleans scrum half Joel McLain, left the Outlaws reeling and desperate and led to a penalty being called in New Orleans’ favor.  New Orleans wing Andrew Quackenbos split the uprights from 30 meters, cutting the Outlaws’ lead from 11 to 8 points.  Two minutes later, New Orleans’ comeback was officially underway.  

Following the New Orleans penalty bringing the score to 11 – 3, the ensuing kickoff was sent directly to touch by the Charleston scrum-half.  Riding the momentum of the recent penalty and sensing the changing tide, the New Orleans forwards decimated the Outlaws pack in the ensuing scrum, allowing a clean ball to be sent by McLain to fly half Ricky DeCastro.  A nice move by the New Orleans backline saw centre Jeff Reuther make a 40 meter break.  As Reuther raced to the corner, he executed a picture perfect switch with Quackenbos, who ran the final 10 meters untouched for the try, cutting the Outlaws lead to just three.  After Quackenbos ran toward the posts and touched the ball down, the Outlaws’ fullback left an indelible mark on the match.  

The Outlaws’ fullback, who was at least three strides away from Quackenbos when the try was scored, slid in as Quackenbos was attempting to get to his feet and planted his knees in the winger’s side.  The shocking decision of the Outlaws’ fullback to hit Quackenbos well after the play inspired a not-so-shocking decision by the referee, who promptly pulled out his red card and sent the Outlaws’ fullback to the sideline for an early shower.  Quackenbos then made the conversion to bring the score to 11-10 Outlaws.  

With 15 minutes to play, New Orleans was pressing hard and finally took its first lead of the match.  Following a knock on by the Outlaws, the New Orleans pack again dominated the scrum to allow McLain to send another perfect ball to the backline.  A nice move by the backs saw fullback Ross Bellaci go screaming past the gain line with only one player to beat.  A nice move and a stiff arm later, Bellaci touched the ball down in the corner to put New Orleans up 15 – 11. 

Despite being a man down, the Outlaws did not surrender.  In fact, they pressed hard into New Orleans territory and threatened to score with several impressive moves, even bringing the ball within 5 meters of the New Orleans in-goal in the waning moments of the match.  An incredible defensive effort by New Orleans would not allow the Outlaws to get the score they so desperately wanted, however, and New Orleans held on for the win.  

New Orleans now advances to the USA Rugby Round of 16, which will be held May 22 and 23 in Columbia, SC.  New Orleans will face Lincoln Park out of Chicago on Saturday, May 22nd.

Final Score - New Orleans 15 - Charleston 11

New Orleans RFC

1) Matt Upton (c); 2) Kevin Kern; 3) Sean Malek ; 4) Jimbo Hotard; 5) Jerry Zifodya; 6) Rob Hoffman; 7) Ryan Fitzgerald; 8) Jarrett Falcon; 9) Joel Mclain; 10) Ricky Decastro; 11) Casey Mackintosh; 12) Eric Mackintosh; 13) Jeff Reuther; 14) Andrew Quackenbos; 15) Ross Bellaci; 16) Adam Massey; 17) Chris Beacher; 18) Jimmy Rehkopf; 19) Gauthier Merlot; 20) Jimmy Courtenay; 21) David Buckingham; 22) Joe Palermo
; 23) Todd Fitzgerald

Tries (2): Quackenbos, Bellaci

Cons (1): Quackenbos (1 for 2)

Pens (1): Quackenbos (1 for 2)

Copyright © 2010 New Orleans Rugby Football Club. All Rights Reserved.  A busbeepbeep production. Some images by Mark Steve Guillory.