Forge forward Alex Gordon carries the ball against the Cleveland Crusaders. Photo Credit: Kiyomi Knox
OBETZ, OH – This past Saturday, the Forge D2 men traveled to the beautiful Fortress Obetz, just outside Columbus, Ohio to take on the Division 1 side of Scioto Valley, the Columbus Rugby Club. This was the Forge’s first match in this year’s Midwest Rugby Union Thunderbird Cup Premiership, and a re-match of last August’s pre-season match at Founder’s Field. The Midwest Thunderbird Cup is a non-league competition that pits Midwest sides against one another that wouldn’t normally compete in fall league competition. The Premiership is the elite competition, with a mix of Division 1 and top-tier Division 2 sides.
The weather was perfect for rugby with a mix of clouds and sun and very comfortable temperature of approximately seventy degrees for the 2:00 PM kickoff. From the onset, Columbus came out flying and put pressure on the Forge right out of the gate. Just five minutes in, the Forge would give up a penalty try due to a high tackle that unfortunately resulted in a quick seven point lead for the home side. A few minutes later, Columbus would strike for another converted try to go up 14 – 0 at the ten minute mark.
Down by two scores, the Forge were able to regroup, led by their eightman, Tony Cardamone (SRU). Tony would score the Forge’s first points of the day, powering for a try at the twelve minute mark. Andrew Knuttel (PITT) would had the tough conversion to cut the Columbus lead to seven.
After three tries in the first twelve minutes of the game, the defenses of each team began to tighten up. The Forge’s defense was led by outside center Neil Reynolds (UPJ) and flanker Alex Gordon (SRU). It would take another several minutes, and many phases from the Forge to secure their second score of the day, a thirty five-meter penalty kick off the boot of Knuttel at the twenty-five minute mark to close the gap, 14 – 10. After the score, the Forge would maintain possession and continue to test the Scioto defense. At thirty-five minutes, the Forge were able to take advantage of numbers out wide and spring fullback Billy Gordon (Villanova) into the try-zone for the Forge’s first lead of the day. Knuttel would miss the conversion, but the Forge would see their first lead well into the first half, 15 – 14. To close out the half, Knuttel would hit another penalty kick, this time from forty-meters out, to increase the Forge lead to four, 18 – 14, at the half.
The second half would begin much like the first, with Columbus putting on pressure and scoring early. Just six minutes in, Columbus would spring for a converted try and retake the lead 21 – 18. Just minutes later, they would add another try, under the posts, but the Scioto kicker would miss the easy kick, giving Columbus a narrow eight point lead, 26 – 18, with plenty of time remaining in the game.
Knuttel would miss an opportunity to cut into the lead when his penalty kick would sail right at fifty-five minutes, but also like the first half, the Forge were able to keep the ball in their hands and apply pressure on Scioto Valley. After threatening for several minutes, lock Brandon Benvenuti, playing great on both sides of the ball, was able to find flanker David Ashline (PITT) for a try near the touch line at the sixty-five minute mark. Knuttel would miss the conversion before exiting the game a few minutes later with a head injury. With the deficit down to just three points, 26 – 23, the Forge kept battling for the ball and kept heat on Columbus.
After a try was called back for a Forge player stepping into touch, Pittsburgh was able to make a fantastic play on the ensuing Scioto Valley lineout and once again Ashline was open for the clutch try at the seventy-three minute mark. Scrumhalf Rousseau Kluever (PITT) would miss the conversion, but the Forge had the lead back, albeit narrow, 28 – 26.
The Forge would play a possession game for the last several minutes to attempt to close out the game. While the Forge were able to mostly maintain possession, Scioto Valley was able to regain the ball and threaten with only a few moments remaining. As they drove down, Tony Cardamone was once again able to show his value to the club by drawing a much needed penalty for not releasing just as Scioto Valley was crossing into Forge territory. With the change of possession, Kluever was able to find touch with his boot on the next play and cement the Forge upset over the Division 1 Scioto Valley. This week, the Forge’s top side will host another Midwest Division 1 club, the Cincinnati Wolfhounds at White Oak Park in Pittsburgh.
First XV: 1 – Derek Neubauer, 2 – Andrew Knuttel, 3 – Frank Cacciotti, 4 – Andrew Chapman, 5 – Brandon Benvenuti, 6 – David Ashline, 7- Alex Gordon, 8 – Tony Cardamone, 9 – Rousseau Kluever (C), 10 – Tyree Massie, 11 – Julyan Jenkins, 12 – Josh Robertson, 13 – Neil Reynolds, 14 – Bryce Markwardt, 15 – Billy Gordon
Reserves: 16 – Percy Taylor, 17 – Lance Reaghard, 18 – Tim Bagatti, 19 – Yhong Thepboon
Substitutions: 50’ – Taylor for Neubauer (TC), 55’ – Bagatti for A. Gordon (IJ), Reaghard for Chapman (TC), 68’ – Thepboon for Knuttel (IJ)
Referee: Unknown, Midwest Rugby Referee Society
Tries: Ashline (2), T. Cardamone (1), B. Gordon (1)
Conversions: Kluever (0/1), Knuttel (1/3)
Penalty Kicks: Knuttel (2/3)
Man of the Match: Andrew Knuttel
D3 Men Show Promise, But Fall to Akron/Canton
AKRON, OH – While the D2 men were in western Ohio taking on Scioto Valley, the D3 men traveled with sixteen players to the University of Akron to take on a split squad of Akron and Canton Rugby. After being shut out in the first half, the Forge D3 men were able to dot down three tries and hit an impressive drop kick in the second half while showing a great deal of improvement and promise. Final score Akron/Canton 51 – Forge 24.This upcoming weekend, the D3 men will host a split squad of Greensburg Rugby Club and Cincinnati Wolfhounds (D3) at White Oak Park following the Premiership match.
First XV: 1 – Duc Cao, 2 – Brett Albrecht, 3 – Jason Edsall, 4 – Eric Kress, 5 – Bill Marnell, 6 – Julian Randall, 7 – Nick Hebert, 8 – Charlie Cross, 9 – Steven Joachim, 10 – Al Cochran, 12 – Blayze Richardson, 13 – Cory Hushon, 14 – Tama Galu, 15 – Nick Cardamone
Reserves: 16 – Robert Gregg
Referee: Unknown, Ohio Rugby Union Referee Society
Tries: Randall (1), Richardson (2)
Conversions: Cochran (3/3)
Drop Kick: Cochran (1)
Man of the Match: Al Cochran