On October 13th, 2013, the Arkansas Gryphons met Northland in a merit match at Lewis Fields in Fayetteville, Arkansas. With the first glimpse of sunlight in weeks, the Gryphons hoped to carry momentum gained from the previous week’s match versus the Razorbacks.
From the get-go, the match was dramatically skewed in the Gryphons’ favor. Northland traveled with only twelve players, and played the first half with as many. A quick injury dropped their numbers to eleven. A distinct disadvantage, the fully manned Gryphons looked to exploit.
The Gryphons showed no problem moving the ball to the try line. Throughout the entire first half, the Gryphons marched the ball down the field repeatedly, relentlessly piling points onto the undermanned Northland team. However, the Gryphons got cocky and the match became chippy. The Gryphons moved away from team play and began focusing on the individual. Members of the forwards and back line got greedy and tried to make the extra step. Showboating created unnecessary turnovers, penalties, and missed points. Seeing cracks in the Arkansas’ unity, the Northland flyhalf directed his remaining forwards to step their game up. The Northland pack was able to counter-ruck several Gryphons attacks; regaining ball possession, but unable to put any points on the board before the half ended.
Thanks to a harsh pep talk from team captain and president, Tucker Shaw, the Gryphons started the second half as if it were the initial kickoff. Making the match even, the Gryphons whored out there reserves, and both sides were at full numbers. Scrums were once again contested, and facing their own, the Gryphons’ scrum was at a major size disadvantage. Being pushed off the ball, the forwards were only able to steal possession outside of the scrum. A Gryphons’ concussion set Arkansas down one man. Taking advantage, Northland was able to put their first points on the board. The Gryphons adapted to the situation and began playing as a single unit. Playing the game they were capable of, maintaining possession, and controlling the pace of the game, the Gryphons continued scoring until time was called.
The final score may not show it, but the match was hard-fought. Northland came in undermanned, but willing to defend their union. Gryphons’ players and fans showed the opposing team nothing but respect and admiration for what they left on the pitch. Tries were scored by Dusty Bratzler (1), Caleb Reed (4), Joe Witherington (1), Dan Cook (3), Caleb Schoeppe (1), Matt Mathis (2), James Buchan (1), Mote Thumbutu (1), and Jeremy Marshall-Johnson (1) for a final score: Arkansas 97, Northland 7.
Written by 8 man, David Robertson and Hooker, Matt Mathis.
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