For the second weekend this Fall, the Indianapolis Impalas forfeited a would-be road match. This time they were supposed to take on the Cleveland Rugby Club, who were coming off of a hard-fough nail-biter against Pittsburgh the weekend prior. While this weekend will see the Club’s Developmental side taking the field, last weekend’s match had the A sidegrinding out a last minute 26-22 win.
Whether it seems like it on the surface or not, this weekend could be a majot deciding factor in how the remainder of the Fall season goes for the Club. Coming off of the victory they had in Pittsburgh, it would be easy to write-off any competition that might come their way this coming Saturday. That would be a huge mistake on the part of the Club’s players because that is not only how you get embarrassed but that is how you also get hurt; and the Cleveland Rugby Club’s ruggeres cannot spare anyone getting mentally of physically damaged. They will need to be sharp in every aspect of their game if they want to finish strong and remain relevant in the standings. Also, this might be a great opportunity for the developing talent of the Club to gain some much-needed playing time. With injuries piling up and players in the midst of recovering, these developing talents will likely see a great deal of playing time and gaining experience before the final matches of the season would be greatly beneficial. If all goes according to plan this weekend, the roster for the Club should be more experienced and one weekend healthier – not a bad way to go into a slate of matches that are against teams that are very beatable.
For those who are unaware, the Club went to Pittsburgh last weekend and wrestled a much-needed win away from the home team. The match was far from perfect on either side. The referee was very liberal with the penalties, dishing out ten meters for even the slightest amounts of back-talk. With the penalties flying fast and furiously, possession and momentum was on a constant shift. On top of all that there were the usual handling errors and penalties of impatience that find their ways into an 80-minute match.
When the Club’s players scored during the match it was by force of will. The Cleveland club’s opening try was off of a line-out, typically a portion of the match that is a toss-up for the Club’s forwards. On this occasion against Pittsburgh’s forwards, they asserted their will with a driving maul that all but strolled across the try line and allowed fill-in front rower, Joe Brown, to get the try. Preston Lowden hooked up with the backs at the end of a long run to cross over for another one his team’s tries to help put a cushion on their lead. Nick Viviani put over a pair of penalty kicks during the match as well; but the bulk of the team’s scoring came from Tren Szente, who had a pair of tries on the day – one of which came during the final minutes of the match after a series of pick-and-go movements deep in Pittsburgh territory.
Even though the Club secured the lead with minutes left in the match, they were far from free and clear. They had one kick off to handle and time to kill, a combination that could easily spell the demise for a club with a slim lead. The Club slowed down the match by putting the ball in the capable hands of the forwards and had them inch their way down the field as time ticked off the clock. Unfortunately, the methodical move was thwarted by a late penalty that put the lead in jeopardy and nerves on edge. Fortunately, Shawn Riley sealed up the match as Pittsburgh tried to swing the ball out wide after sucking in the Cleveland defenses. Riley, normally known for his offensive prowess, snuffed out the attack with a game-saving tackle and poach attempt. The Club was awarded a final penalty, and when they kicked the ball clear the whistle blew and the victory was secured.
The final three matches for the season see the Club come up against the West siders, Dayton and Detroit RFC – three teams they have a good history with First up, they host the West side. They kick off next week at the Metro Parks Pitch at 1:00pm.