Men’s Rugby Defeats Williams, Hands Rival a Decisive 55-5 Loss
Issue   |   Wed, 05/06/2015 - 00:43
Amherst Athletics
The Amherst men's rugby team receives a pass in the line out.

This past Saturday, May 2, the Amherst men’s rugby team went head to head with archrival Williams for the team’s last matchup of the season. The stakes were high, as the teams battled it out for glory as well as for the other team’s jerseys. Traditionally during the bi-annual Williams-Amherst matchup, the teams bet the shirts they are wearing on the outcome of the game. The warm weather provided ideal conditions, allowing the match to kick-off at 2 p.m. on Amherst’s home field. Ultimately Amherst would dominate against Williams 55-5, with strong showings from both the forwards and the backs.

“We played our strongest game of the season against Williams and did a really good job of coming out with a lot of intensity,” Benjamin Greene ’17 said. “Our forwards were phenomenal in the scrums and rucks and our backs moved the ball really well.”

From the start, Williams had a difficult time advancing, as the strong Amherst defense proved hard to break. The Jeffs kept the Ephs off Amherst’s side of the field for the majority of the game. Amherst’s strong defensive core was coupled with some great ball handling by the forwards, leading to multiple successful score opportunities.

There were six successful tries (worth 5 points each) in the first half for the purple and white, and the strong Amherst back line held Williams to zero successful scores in the first half. Junior captain Sam Seham scored the first try of the game. Jim Hall ’15 shortly followed up with a score of his own.

“We came out really strong against Williams, scored quite a few back to back tries and were able to get some of our newer players some game time,” Cody Pfund-Pulliam ’17 said. Pfund-Pulliam scored a try, as well as made 5 conversion kicks (worth 2 points each), single-handedly earning 15 points as the team’s top individual scorer.

First-year standout Greene broke away from the middle of the field and ran nearly 50 meters with the ball for an amazing try. In rapid succession, Amherst kept up with the scoring onslaught, as seniors Tawkir Chodury and Courage Matiza spearheaded the offensive effort. Each scored a try, although Matiza’s did not count due to an advantage by the Williams team. Senior Jordan Pinksy was particularly integral to Amherst’s scoring success, as he gauged the game and directed plays based on the Eph’s field positioning. As the sole hooker for the Jeffs, Daniel Navas ’17 was key in the line outs and scrums — particular strengths of the Amherst team. After the first 40 minutes of play, Amherst led 40-0.

“Our Williams games are always intense but this weekend we cracked their defense early and refused to let up,” Seham said. “The Ephs could not handle the physicality brought to the match by our senior class.”

The second half was also very successful for the Jeffs, as Amherst scored another three tries and allowed just a single Eph score. The crisp passes by the back line as well as the great communication between forwards and backs allowed Johnny Erdman ’17 and Pete Alsharif ’15 to both score their first tries. The backs’ successful implementation of plays, strong passes and running allowed them to break through the Ephs’ tackles. Ianni Drivas ’15 earned another 5 points for the Jeffs off of a penalty play close to the try line that had proved very successful in the past.

“Ending the season on a high note was a testament to the hard work and leadership exhibited by our seniors this year. It felt great going out there and getting a win for those guys,” Greene said.

After a near shutout, the Amherst men’s team walked away with one last win for their seniors, earning yet another set of Williams jerseys.

“We are going to miss our seniors. Their fantastic leadership and passion have left a huge positive impact on both me and the club. We have some huge shoes to fill, but I am confident in our future captains and teammates,” Navas said.

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