Rocky Gorge D-II Champions! FeaturedWritten by Bernie Decker
Wisconsin v Rocky Gorge
With the atmosphere inside Glendale’s Infinity Park Rugby Stadium keeping pace with rising temperatures, Wisconsin and Rocky Gorge battled for USARugby’s Division II crown.
Lengthy lopes from the loose by Wisconsin lock Nic Tyson and 8-man Max Zukowski led to serviceable attacking platforms and a 17-12 halftime advantage, but the elusive countering action of Gorge’s fullback Andrew Kendall and his deadly strikes from goal tee were the strong front leg of the Marylanders at day’s end and brought home victory as well as the D-II title.
Wisconsin got onboard after a couple of knocks on Rocky’s door setup a darting cross and dot by halfback Cody Moran-Guevara. Conversion by flyhalf Miles Jobke, and Wisconsin had a seven point lead after nine ticks.
Questions asked out of the loose by the sniping surges of Wisconsin’s big, mobile forwards enabled attacking platforms and their subsequent podwork and three-quarter line swings kept Wisconsin going forward in the early stages of the championship match.
A wonscrum 10 meters from Gorge’s goal allowed Tyson to stunt into the backline and feed outside center Garett Donath for his crossing and, with Jobke’s sure stroke for the added couple, it was 14-nil Wisconsin by minute 21.
Rocky Gorge pushed hard into goal in the 24th minute, but they were denied points as they were held up in goal and subsequent action enabled Jobke to clear his lines.
But the Gorge got theirs when loosehead Brian “L.A.” Perez plowed over for the try and the afterstrike of fullback Andrew Kendall was true to pull Rocky within seven in the 32nd minute.
An offsides infraction cost Gorge three as Jobke’s shot on goal was true-as-true and Wisconsin had extended their lead to ten, 17-7 as time dwindled in the half.
Rocky were done however, and Kendall popped across from out of an inclose loose piece for the dot which made the scores 17-12 in Wisconsin’s favor as referee Dave Autry’s halftime whistle signaled the break.
Furious action in the first ten minutes of the last stanza as the lead switched hands three times. Gorge claimed the lead when hooker Matt Carroll offloaded surely to #6 Mike Meehan who grounded for Kendall’s completion and it was 19-17, Rocky Gorge at minute 44.
Wisconsin went back on top three minutes on with Jobke’s sticksplitter after Gorge were pinged for entering the side at breakdown; 20-19 to Wisconsin.
Rocky went back up as replacement Will Miller touched down the pack try mauled over goal with 50 minutes recorded.
Wisconsin drew to within one as Jobke’s penalty shot was good from outside the right post after Rocky were judged to have sealed ball at breakdown and it was 24-23 Rocky Gorge in the 60th minute.
A brilliant counter by Gorge’s wing Jay Benedetti brought the pill into Wisconsin territory fifteen meters from goal. Three rolls off the maul and they were within five of the line. Two more knocks and replacement Josh Brown crossed and dotted for Kendall’s conversion and the numbers were 31, 23 and 65.
Jobke lowered the deficit to five with a penalty goal from 30 out between the hashes, making the score 31-26 with 68 in the books.
A pair of Kendall penalties closed the deal for Rocky Gorge in the last stages, and a final tally of 37-26 went down and Mid-Atlantic’s #1 became USARugby’s D-II clubside champions in 2012.
Wisconsin – Try: Moran-Guevara, Donath; Con: Jobke (2); Pen: Jobke (4)
Rocky Gorge – Try: Perez, Kendall, Meehan, Miller, Brown; Con: Kendall (3); Pen: Kendall (2)
Match Officials: Dave Autry, Dan Hattrup, Derek Summers