On October 5th, 2013, the Arkansas Gryphons Rugby Club matched up against its local rival, the University of Arkansas Rugby Club, in a showdown for hometown bragging rights. Even more importantly, the match served as the inaugural meeting between the two teams in support of breast cancer awareness. Continuous downpours and a temperature slightly less than sixty degrees made for slick ball and overall messy conditions. Grinding down and digging deep, the Gryphons’ pack dominated much of the game, giving true meaning to the statement “the forwards decide who wins the game; the backs decide by how much.”
From kickoff, the Gryphons dominated ball possession. Bangers sucked in Razorback defenders allowing the Gryphons’ back line to score right off the bat. Centers Dan Cook and Frank Masotto put the Gryphons ahead early with three tries between them. Solid possession and progression from the Gryphons’ forwards kept the Razorbacks on their heels, as well as another try from fullback Dayvid Cain. Team captain and scrumhalf Tucker Shaw facilitated the ball brilliantly, adding another first half try. With time dwindling in the half, the Razorbacks successfully drove the ball down the pitch. Multiple Gryphons’ penalties had them defending their try zone from the line. Razorback prop Mike Wyse made his way into the try zone, but was held up by Gryphons eight-man, David Robertson, to end the half 31-0.
Both teams were eager to get the second half underway, but the Razorbacks started with a chip on their shoulder, controlling the opening minutes. Both teams slowed their pace, working the ball down the pitch. On their second wind, the Gryphons’ pack regained control of the game. Rookie lock Stevie Long showed significant skill and marvelous acrobatics in the lineouts continually maintaining Gryphon possession. Lock Dusty Bratzler, contesting lineouts solo, intimidated Razorback forwards into several lost balls. Rookie flanker Mike Wright had a big hit on the Razorback flyhalf deep in their own territory; while rookie winger Joe Witherington had a colossal open field tackle to keep the Razorbacks scoreless.
The Gryphons stole the ball, and made a defining march down the field. Feeling the end near, the Gryphons forwards took over. Scrum after scrum, they pushed their way down the field. Just inside the Razorback twenty-two, they set up for one more scrum. After easily winning possession, the Gryphons forwards pushed the scrum just meters from the try line. With support from flanker Ryan Boggs, Robertson picked the ball and drove the weak side posting the game’s final try.
Wanting to put points on the board, the Razorbacks responded. Rookie Razorback winger Cole Harris juked and jived his way up the field, where veteran flyhalf Spencer Sabo had a break away run. With great tenacity, Gryphons flyhalf Caleb Reed sprinted sixty meters to stop Campisi only three meters from scoring as time expired.
After a hard fought battle among friends, the Gryphons walked off the field blanking the Razorbacks, posting seven tries for 43 points.
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