Revenge is sweet.
The Texas Rugby team handled its first test of the season with ease yesterday, turning what looked to be a close game at the half (10-8, Texas), into a decisive victory. Texas was more physical in the scrum, more physical in the ruck, and a conditioning edge was also obvious after the first 30 minutes.
After recovering a blocked kick in the end-goal for a try and missing the conversion kick, Texas took a very quick 5-0 lead. Rice took advantage of a UT rucking error to cut the lead to 5-3 on an easy penalty kick, but Texas found their end goal several minutes later to move to 10-3. Again taking advantage of UT miscues, Rice nearly tied the game at 10, but failed to convert the kick after a breakaway try, and Texas lead at the half, 10-8.
The coaches noticed that the Rice forwards were already done for the day at about 30 minutes into the first half, and adjusted at halftime to take advantage. Texas ran a more power-oriented offense for a good deal of the second half, stacking forwards behind the ball and plowing through Rice's gassed defense, slowly but surely grinding out an important conference win. When Rice had committed to defending the pick-and-go attack, Texas spun the ball out to its backs, who exploited gaps and created overloads in the defense, trying to make Rice pay for each mistake.
The play of the game came in the second half: Texas' captain and one of the props dove on a loose ball inside Rice's 22. Our prop made a great play in throwing his body between the ball and a Rice player trying to kick the ball away, taking a boot in the back. Rather than fumbling with it and rushing the rest of the team, they together secured the ball, guaranteeing possession and allowing the rest of the attack time to form up and exploit the chaos on Rice's line for a try. Another of our forwards scored a hat-trick (three tries), and was awarded Man of the Match by the coaches. Check out the Ref's opinion of the game here.
The second side (developmental match for younger/less experienced players on both teams) followed a similar course - tied 5-5 at halftime, the Longhorns again took advantage of superior conditioning to run away with the win, 34-5. The forwards did an awful lot of the work in this game, as well, as the Rice defense again had no answer throughout the second half to UT's power game of three big-men up the gut. Both first and second side won their games in a feel-good fashion - pounding out a win with brute force in a revenge game.
The competition stiffens considerably next week, as the 'Horns make the long trip (by bus - aero-technical gizmos be damned!) to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech in the desert, but Texas looks to be in good shape to handle it, and should be in for a good match.
Updated AGAIN (2/4): I've looked around, and from what is online, the standings for our conference are as follows:
Sam Houston 1-0-0
Texas Tech 0-1-0
Here's the sched so far:
#19 LSU @ Texas postponed
#25 SH @ Rice postponed
Texas @ Rice Texas, 24-8
#6 A&M @ #19 LSU LSU, 15-8
#25 SH @ Tech SH, 29-10
As always, questions are encouraged in the comments below (Have a question like "How do you score?" Don't be shy, most people have never seen a single minute of a rugby match in the U.S, anyway!), and...
Hook 'em, 'Horns!
More next week, plus I may add some pictures here, if I get permission.