Kickoff on a beautiful spring day at Thompson Park saw the Monmouth Men square off with defending conference champions Morris Rugby Corporation. Defensive lapses in the first 22 minutes found Monmouth trailing 22 to nil, but showing no signs of surrender. Finally with some possession, forward momentum opened up the Morris back-line for Nick Wallace to score slightly off centered for a 7-22 deficit. Mentality played a big factor as Morris was able to counter-punch shortly after to re-widen the spread to 7-27. A series of good carries and penalties found Monmouth at the Morris 22, where an unlikely backs maul was pushed over to make the score 12-27 at the break.
The second half saw 2 tries a piece for the teams. Morris scored one on a broken Monmouth maul close to goal and another on a stolen kickoff where they pushed the pace and never let the defense reset. The Monmouth pack got within 5 meters and fought relentlessly and selflessly for each other, with clean rucks and good support. Finally, after a full team effort, Donny “the Trashman” Palmer muscled his way over in the 57’. In a simple display of move-the-ball-out-wide, “Backpack” Billy Martin on the wing stepped one defender, engaged the others in a footrace, and crossed the whitewash in the corner. Later, trying a little of the same going the opposite way, the ball sailed into touch to end the match. The final whistle left the score at 22-39.
The men dug themselves a 0-22 hole and then tried to climb out of it. After finally turning it on in 23′, Monmouth outscored Morris 22-17 the rest of the match. The team is in the works. New system. Some new bodies. New mentality. There is promise. The pieces are coming together.
The Monmouth Men were scheduled to play the Mudturtle RFC of Union County tomorrow, but the match was cancelled due to a Union COVID-19 exposure. Next, the men take on Princeton Athletic Club away on 5/8. The next home match will take place 5/22 as MRFC takes on Montclair for our Friends and Family Day.
Monmouth fielded a second side eager to avenge the first. The ball went to the backs far more than last week. The penalties were noticeably less and the tackles noticeably cleaner. Scoring began with a lovely smash and bang try from young Joe Pugilese. Jason Spieler weaved his way through the defense and dotted it down in the middle for a second. The final was 10-5 Monmouth. The group demonstrated promise and continues to improve week to week.
Nick Wallace – 5 points, 1 try
Richie Cicalo – 5 points, 1 try
Donny “the Trashman” Palmer – 5 points, 1 try
Billy Martin – 5 points, 1 try
Kieran Walsh – 2 points, 1 conversion
Joe Pugilese – 5 points, 1 try
Jason Spieler – 5 points, 1 try
Rich McEown exited the Morris game early with a knee injury, which was later diagnosed as a torn ACL, with surgery probable.
Chris “Tito” Zeller undergoes knee surgery today for his torn ACL, torn MCL, and fractured patella.
Nick “York” Gajewski continues to recover from his surgery last week.
Injuries are an unfortunate consequence of rugby. Eat your vegetables. Drink your milk. We wish the three of these core players well on their recoveries.
|Photography courtesy of Sarah Hempstead. Thank you again Sarah!|