With the Ivy Rugby season fast approaching, Dartmouth took to the field Friday night in their final preseason contest, facing off against traditional Northeast Rugby rivals Army.
In an entertaining game under the lights at the Anderson Rugby Complex the Big Green gave the cadets fits, heading into halftime with a 15-13 lead in what turned out to be a very fast and physical preseason match. Ultimately though Army capitalized on a strong performance from its scrum, some quality kicking from All-American flyhalf Will Holder, and a handful of Dartmouth errors early in the second half, to come back to win 35-22.
While the result was certainly not what the Big Green wanted, captain and No. 8 Paul Jarvis said the team had several positive things to reflect on as they head into the Ivy Rugby conference season. “I was proud of the overall physical effort and I thought the squad fronted up well in the contact exchanges. Mentally we need to work on reducing the penalty count, some better tactical decisions at times, and repositioning faster,” he said. Coach Alexander Magleby agreed, saying that he had not seen the team play so well on defense in the rucks against an Army side in a long while.
That Dartmouth was close to pulling out the victory until almost the very end was no small feat considering how inauspiciously they started. After Dartmouth missed the initial kick-off, missing a penalty kick for touch, and then committing a handful of penalties, Army was able to break through the line for a try only a few minutes into the game for a 7-0 lead. Faced with such early adversity, the Big Green responded with a try of their own, as flyhalf Will Lehmann scooped a knock-on on the 5-meter line, after the defense had worked hard to pin Army there from a kick-off, and went in for the try to cut the deficit to 7-5, with fullback and Junior All-American Madison Hughes just missing the conversion from the corner.
It would remain one try apiece for awhile as the two teams played a territory game trying to create an advantage for their attacks. In the end, Dartmouth wound up being the side that broke through, stringing together a handful of line-breaks from a lineout at halfway, eventually with lock Dylan Jones ’14 trundling 20 meters for a 12-7 lead. From there, the rest of the scoring in the half was limited to penalties, as Army’s Holder kicked two to retake the lead before Madison Hughes added one of his own to give Dartmouth the 15-13 advantage going into intermission.
The Big Green would not be able to hold onto their lead for long however. Only a few minutes later Army had territorial superiority off of two Dartmouth penalties, with Holder converting the last one once again put themselves ahead 16-15. Shortly after, they would tack on a try as well to increase the advantage to 23-15. About 10 minutes later, Army appeared to be on the verge of putting the game out of reach with another score to make the lead 30-15.
While Dartmouth would not be able to recover from the tactical mistakes they made in the first 20 minutes of the 2nd half, they continued to show no quit. Lehmann once again proved as the catalyst, as he connected with center Michael Burbank who took it the rest of the way to make the score 30-22 with the game winding down.
Unfortunately for Dartmouth that would be their last score for the night, as Army would add another try late as Dartmouth was forced to run out from around their try.
Dartmouth will now turn their attention to the conference part of their schedule, which they’ll kick off this weekend with a road trip through New York. First up, on Saturday, Sept. 24th they’ll be in Ithaca to take on Cornell at 3:30 pm. Then on Sunday, Sept. 25th they’ll head down to New York City to play Columbia at 2pm, directions are here:
Army next takes on Boston College at the Anderson Rugby Complex at West Point September 24 at 3pm.