UR club rugby fought back from a huge half-time deficit to defeat SUNY Geneseo on Saturday. The undefeated Uglies entered the game knowing it would be a battle and gave their fans nothing less.
“I would say that this week we had an uphill battle from the start and proved that we have what it takes to be champions,” senior captain and flyhalf Matt Venzin said. “We continue to play as a team when the chips are down rather than relying on individual efforts.”
The Uglies’ strong start, with a try by Venzin, was quickly suppressed by Geneseo’s four consecutive unanswered tries, along with Venzin leaving due to a head injury just before halftime.
However, the scoreboard was not the only enemy of the Uglies. After the Uglies had been penalized five times in the first half, they had quickly accumulated a 23-point deficit.
The Uglies started to respond to the dismal first half by picking it up in the second. The unrelenting Uglies began to quickly wear down the larger SUNY Geneseo team through continuous action. Senior Barry Gomoll points to the injury of captain Venzin as the turning point for the Uglies.
“I think the turning point was when Venzin got hurt – it just fired everybody up,” Gomoll said, who went on to score four consecutive tries in the second half. “It’s mostly that I just saw the opportunity to score and I took it – a couple of the tries came off the rolling mauls from lineouts which we had been working on.”
In the first minutes of the second half, the Uglies pinned Geneseo down in their own end after a perfect kick and lineout. Uglies would dominate for the rest of the game.
Winning eight out of their nine scrums, as opposed to Geneseo’s two out of nine, the Uglies once again sealed the victory through a solid pack performance.
Conditioning has proven to be an extremely important asset to the Uglies, who simply outlasted Geneseo’s larger pack. The key to the team’s success, however, has undoubtedly come from having backs that can finish the job when they need to.
“We had a serious size disadvantage against Geneseo, but it’s not anything we aren’t used to,” sophomore and prop Steve Goff said. “We always seem to find a way around our size and today it was conditioning and smart play which came through in the second half.”
After taking charge in the second half, the Uglies came down to the last three minutes of play, still down 24-28.
Gomoll, in his normal form, scored a clutch which finally brought the Uglies into the lead, 31-28, in stunning fashion.
After defeating the runner up for the state championship in Geneseo, they travel to Fredonia this weekend to take on the only other team that is still undefeated in the Uglies’ division.
“They are another team that beat us last year,” sophomore and wing Kenneth Gayles said. “We know they have yet another strong pack – we will just play our game, it’s what’s brought us to this point.”
Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.