Doylestown Match Report - 5-22-11
Written by Ian McNulty   

Doylestown Match Report - 5/22/11

NORFC 61 - 17 Doylestown

Last year at this time the NORFC was returning from the USA Rugby Round of 16 both disappointed and encouraged. The team lost its first round game that year but did rally the second day to register a national-level win in the consolation round, giving the NORFC a taste of what it wanted and what could be. 
For the year that followed the team focused on rising above that past performance and moving to a new level. Today that goal was achieved in magnificent fashion.
"Our team played an inspiring game today," said head coach Jerry Malina. "We played hard and we played smart. We knew where we were and we understood the chance we had to get where we need to go. We started out hard and kept adding fuel to the fire."
Following a resounding 48-22 win over Buffalo in the first round, the NORFC faced Doylestown, which had squeaked out a 35-33 win over the Village Lions the previous day. New Orleans took the pitch with confidence, direction, unity and discipline and quickly put all of this into play against the opponent. It was a game with New Orleans scoring early and often, adjusting play as necessary, swarming to defense, capitalizing on opponent errors and keeping its collective head. The result was overwhelming. 
One minute into the game the team planted three points on the board thanks to a penalty kick by Mauricio Urrutia. After an extended kicking duel and many restarts, Alex Phillpott broke through for the first try in the corner, though the conversion attempt missed.
The NORFC pack had by now shown its ability to push Doylestown in the scrum, but on one in particular New Orleans wheeled the opponent dramatically and made hay from the scrum that followed. Joel Mclain slashed through the defense right off the scrum and charged the ball into striking distance before offloading to Rob Hoffman to score between posts. The conversion was good, bringing the score to 15-0.
In what would soon emerge as a dominating pattern for New Orleans this success was followed almost immediately by another. This time Jeff Reuther found the gap and scored untouched between posts. With a good conversion New Orleans had built itself a 22-0 lead after about 20 minutes of action.
The New Orleans sideline was jubilant, but also cautious as the game unfolded. Clearly New Orleans was in control but could the squad sustain this gallop?
Reassurance came fast and certain with a monster scrum near midfield. Wes Eustis emerged from a ruck with the ball and delivered a clutch offload in traffic to Saade Bou-Mikael, who slid in for the try. Then, from the very next kickoff, a good chip kick from deep New Orleans territory led to a foot race across the pitch, which Patrick Kennedy won to score with lots of support alongside. Urrutia converted again to push the lead to 34 unanswered points.
Nearing the end of the half, however, the foot came off the pedal and Doylestown took full advantage. New Orleans was pushed back by penalties all the way to the goal line and the opponent seized the chance to punch one in, landing on the board at 34-7.
The clock was running down for the first half but New Orleans still was able to end the period on its own terms as Phillpott banged in another try.
The squad gathered for the halftime break with a stunning 39-7 lead but also with a mandate to keep on the pressure. Coach Malina challenged the team to tighten its grip and finish the opponent in the next 40 minutes, and as the game resumed this order was brought to fruition.
Doylestown was not about to coast into its defeat, however, and from the first plays of the restart they demonstrated new fire. They drove within range and mounted one charge after another on the goal line. Worse, New Orleans was playing a man down after a yellow card call. But the NORFC defense held fast and turned the tables on Doylestown. A kick to get the ball out of the red zone turned into a tumbling chase all the way to the opponent's end zone, where Ross "Screech" Bellaci beat all defenders to touch down the try. 
Here was the spirit of the game in a snapshot. Confident and in control but not complacent, the NORFC beat back a ferocious assault and came away building its lead rather than allowing the opponent to narrow it. 
That effort left things at 44-7, but the score would not stay there for long. From a five-meter line out in Doylestown territory, the forwards did what they do best and Ben Benvenutti finished off a fury of goal line runs with the try, upping the score to 49-7.
More penalties again pushed New Orleans back and again this cost the team a try, with Doylestown creeping up to 49-12. But, from the kickoff, Screech made a break and threaded the pitch for a try followed by another conversion from Urrutia. Now the lead was 56-12. 
Time and options were running low for Doylestown and New Orleans reserves were pouring in. The opponent fought on and found another try, for a score of 56-17. It looked like they could tack on another goal too as more penalties set them up near the New Orleans goal line. But again, the NORFC persistence in defense paid off. When a short Doylestown pass hit the deck, Reuther scooped it up and shot it out to David Buckingham who turned on the jets, cleared nearly the entire pitch, juked the last defender hard and scored the game's last points.
The final whistle blew a few minutes later with the NORFC victorious at 61-17. The players, the coaches, the Old Boys and the boosters dashed onto the pitch to celebrate. 
There had been little doubt of the outcome for some time as New Orleans built and defended its lead. But the elation of the moment grew as the NORFC family could finally say the day was won and this momentous chapter in club history was written.
In less than two weeks the NORFC will travel to Denver for its first ever appearance in the USA Rugby Final Four. These will be uncharted waters for the club, but riding high from this weekend's historic performance the NORFC has a confident hand on the helm.

Halftime Score - New Orleans  39 - 7 Doylestown

Final Score - New Orleans 61 - 17 Doylestown

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) Jeff Reuther; 11) Alex Phillpott; 12) Pat Kennedy; 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) Tony Breaux; 22) David Buckingham; 23) Todd Fitzgerald
Tries (10): Phillpott (2), Bellaci (2), Hoffman, Reuther, Bou-Mikael, Kennedy, B. Benvenutti, Buckingham 
Cons (4): Urrutia (4 for 8), Falcon (0 for 1), Bellaci (0 for 1)
Pens (1): Urrutia (1 for 2) 

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