Panama City Match Report (D3) - 4-9-11
Written by Eric Mackintosh   

Panama City Match Report - 4/9/11

NORFC D3 Green 40 - Panama City 7

       The Division III NORFC Green rugby team traveled to Panama City Beach, Florida, to take on the Panama City Hurricanes in the their last Matrix division match of the year.  The squad traveled strong, arriving in Panama City Beach in the midst of spring break with a mix of 22 mostly young players and a few older, crafty veterans.

       The game started rather slowly for both teams, a series of penalties, knock-ons, and bad decisions by NORFC players created a strong feeling of frustration and discontent among this usually unified group.  Tactical kicking by flyhalf captain Will Traylor, along with strong back field playing by the NORFC back three kept Panama City from scoring for the first 30 minutes of the game.  NORFC managed to strike first after a few ball retaining plays allowed scrumhalf Casey Mackintosh to get the ball to Traylor for a quick under pass to RJ Boyce, who juked and shifted his way through the porous Panama City defense for a 20 meter brilliant try.  Traylor converted easily.

       NORFC put itself in a precarious situation when an ill-advised pass was intercepted by Panama City for their only try of the match.  A conversion tied the ball game and a look of desperation swept over the faces of the traveling squad.  Inter-team bickering and mental errors kept NORFC from scoring again in the first half.  Panama City had a chance to score off of a 40-meter penalty kick, but the ball hit the post and the score remained 7 to 7 at the half.

       In a series of unorthodox, bold, and aggressive strategic coaching maneuvers, the NORFC coaching squad made four substitutions at the half, bringing on some much needed fresh legs and reinvigorating club moral.

       After receiving a kick-off, NORFC managed to retain possession, and flanker Corey LeSassier scored an incredible try by running 60 meters through the heart of Panama City’s defense.  LeSassier went on to score again later in the half.  Outside center Alex Phillpott added another 5 points when he hit a gap on a 50-meter run, and was dragged down from behind by his collar, scoring a penalty try.  Wing Freeman “the enforcer,” added two tries of his own, along with four centered conversions.  Strong play from Jim Hotard and prop Mason enabled scrumhalf Mackintosh to produce clean ball for a sustainable NORFC running game.

       Towards the end of the game tempers flared as a few disheartened Panama City players started to employ some unsportsmanlike tactics in order to draw a yellow or red card from NORFC, putting their next playoff game in jeopardy.  NORFC players and coaching staff managed to keep their cool and walk away without any serious penalty infractions; a 40 to 7 victory speaks louder than any retaliatory reactions they could have engaged in.
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