Buffalo Match Report - 5-21-11
Written by Ian McNulty   

Buffalo Match Report - 5/21/11

NORFC 48 - 22 Buffalo

The NORFC made club history today with a victory in the USA Rugby Round of 16, advancing to the national Elite 8. 
 
This playoff round, which continues tomorrow, is set in Manassas, Va., an area imbued with its own heavy history. These same grounds were the site of the first major land battle of the Civil War, where Gen. Thomas Jackson earned his famous nickname Stonewall Jackson for the strength of his defense. 
 
New Orleans showed up determined to carve a piece of its own history here with a first-round national playoff win.
 
That determination showed from the very start. Less than a minute into play, after bringing the ball behind the Buffalo 22, Jarrett Falcon broke the defensive line to score by the posts. Mauricio Urrutia made his first conversion of the day, and the pace was set.
 
New Orleans was not long with a follow-up, charging quickly again into Buffalo territory and getting the ball out wide for Urrutia to shoot it in and then convert. Less than 10 minutes into this match New Orleans was up 14-0.
 
Fighting off its heels, Buffalo at last brought the ball onto the New Orleans side of the field, got a penalty opportunity and took advantage, landing on the scoreboard at 14-3.
 
At the next kickoff New Orleans was again driving on Buffalo. Ross "Screech" Bellaci reeled in a wide pass to score, though the wind took the conversion attempt wide, bringing things to 19-3. 
 
By now the pack had established its dominance in the scrum and soon the forwards were making their impact directly in the end zone. From a line-out deep in Buffalo territory, the pack mauled the ball all the way in to score, followed by Urrutia's conversion to extend the lead to 26-3. 
 
Later, it was battering ram time at Buffalo's gates as the forwards poured on hit after hit. Once Sean "Bus" Malek worked up some steam no one could stop him as he barreled through. 
 
The score stood at an impressively lopsided 31-3 as the first half wound down. But Buffalo found a way to end the period on its own terms. Marched back by consecutive penalties, New Orleans was behind its 22 and the opponent made good on the situation, making a break to score, convert and end the half at 31-10.
 
After the half break, Buffalo came out with new fire and started knocking hard on the New Orleans door. They came out very hot. But the NORFC held fast, with a defense as strong as a stonewall of their own. 
 
New Orleans defenders held up a sure try by Buffalo in the end zone, and set about a series of clutch scrums and key stops to frustrate many fast and close attempts at the try line. 
 
Finally, after an exhausting goal line stand, Alex Phillpott landed an interception and sprinted out, offloading in the midst of a tackle to Screech who scored. It was 36-10. There was a lot more rugby to come, but this huge effort to repulse Buffalo's charge and turn it into a try put the momentum squarely back with New Orleans. 
 
Buffalo found a try and converted, sharpening things to 36-17. But New Orleans reserves began making an impact of their own. Pat Kennedy, fresh in the game, tore through defenders from the 22 to score under posts, and Urrutia converted for a 43-17 balance. Buffalo answered again with a try. But then Andrew Quackenbos scored in corner, upping it to 48-22.
 
And there it would stay. A last minute attack by Buffalo fell apart with bad offloads and when the final whistle blew New Orleans began celebrating its historic victory. 
 
New Orleans has made it to the Round of 16 in three of the last four years, losing each time in the first round until today. The close 2010 loss has burned all year long, but today the team proved it could hold fast, fight through and rise above. 
 
That chapter of NORFC history is now written. Tomorrow, as the team advances to the USA Rugby Elite 8, the club's future awaits. 
 
Now Doylestown stands in the way of the NORFC moving to the national Final 4 after that team's close 35-33 victory over the Village Lions.
 
Tonight it's ice for sore players. Tomorrow it's fire and hell for the opponent.



Halftime Score - New Orleans  31 - 10 Buffalo

Final Score - New Orleans 48 - 22 Buffalo

New Orleans Gold 
1) Matt Upton; 2) Wes Eustis; 3) Sean Malek; 4) Matt Lytle; 5) Ben Benvenutti; 6) Rob Hoffman; 7) Ryan Fitzgerald; 8) Jarrett Falcon; 9) Joel Mclain (c); 10) Ricky Decastro; 11) Alex Phillpott; 12) Jeff Reuther; 13) Saade Bou-Mikael; 14) Mauricio Urrutia; 15) Ross Bellaci; 16) Adam Massey; 17) Jerry Zifodya; 18) Nick Benvenutti; 19) Paul Bode; 20) Chris Beacher; 21) Andrew Quackenbos; 22) Pat Kennedy; 23) Todd Fitzgerald
 
Tries (8): Falcon (2), Bellaci (2), Urrutia, Malek, Kennedy, Quackenbos 
 
Cons (4): Urrutia (3 for 6), Quackenbos (1 for 2) 
 
Pens (0): 




 
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