On Saturday, the UR rugby team, the Uglies, won their season opener 29-19 against the St. Bonaventure College Bonnies in deciding fashion. In making the trip to St. Bonaventure, the Uglies were adamant about playing their own “smash-mouth” kind of rugby, meaning dominance on defense and nimble speed on offense.

“We owned them in the rucks,” locke position player and junior William Conwell said. “Our game plan was to go in and dictate the pace of the game by playing our style of rugby, which we were able to do throughout the match.”

The Uglies came out strong and played physically despite Bonaventure striking first by scoring the first try and conversion.

“We were so angry after they scored that first try, especially since it was in the first few minutes,” said locke and sophomore Colin O’Bannon. “But mostly it just pumped us up.”

The Uglies hit a snag midway through the first half. They scored two penalty kicks for a total of six points, but the Bonnies went on drive going up 14-6 against the Uglies.

“We were more fired up for this game then I’ve ever seen the team before,” sophomore Steve Klein said. “We just wanted it more then them and that’s what carried us through the game.”

Frustrated, the resilient Uglies had seen enough. Team captain and senior Matt Venzin scored a gritty try but just missed the conversion making the score 14-11. Scrum-half and sophomore Nate Ross kept the scoring going with another un-converted try just before halftime, giving the Uglies the lead, 16-14.

“I just told the guys to keep playing their own game, we were dominating them, no question – we just had to start producing points,” coach Joe Kirsch said at halftime, shortly after gaining the lead.

The Uglies refused to surrender to the Bonnies after the halftime break. The team came out leading the charge, winning 12 of 21 scrums and allowing Bonaventure only 29 gaining runs out of 65 carries.

The Uglies didn’t just dominate the second half through defensive might. The offense started lighting it up as well, led by Venzin, who would make two more clutch penalty kicks that would add another six points to the Ugly’s lead.

After Bonaventure scored an unconverted try to make the score 21-19 in favor of the Uglies, the team delivered the final blow from freshman Raidev Akoi’s try and captain Venzin’s conversion to make the final score, 29-19.

Knocking off Bonaventure was a huge accomplishment for the Uglies and a definite “message-sending” kind of win.

“They were the defending state champs coming in, so this win felt really good, especially since we didn’t end on great terms after a tie the last year with them,” hooker and sophomore for the Uglies, Steve Goff, said. “They were definitely the team to beat.”

This young Uglies team, with nine of the 15 starters as freshmen and sophomores, while small in size, is quick and packs a punch.

“Yeah I think its great that we have so much fresh meat on the field because those guys will be around for a while keeping this whole thing going,” O’Banion said.

Sunday, Hobart-William Smith College rolls into UR to face the resilient Uglies at 1 p.m. on their pitch next to the Graduate Living Center. Although the Uglies soundly defeated Hobart last year, they are expecting a very competitive game.

“We are expecting a tough game from them,” Goff said. “They had a tough season last fall, but they were much improved at tournaments in the spring and they already beat a good team in Buffalo State this year. So we are expecting a tough match from them.”

Edwards can be reached at cedwards@campustimes.org.

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