Heading into this weekend’s match against state rival Oregon, Oregon State coach David Dickson was unsure whether the game would take on the typical grudge-match feel since it was now part of a five-game regular season. In years past, the game had winner-take-all stakes as far as securing the Pacific Northwest seed to playoffs. But as the freezing rain poured down on the players, Dickinson and crew were not disappointed in the 12-7 victory that evolved.
“As predicted, it was a game about who could commit the fewest handling errors, and exploit the errors made by the other team,” Dickson said. And Oregon State found themselves on the winning end of that battle.
Oregon State started well, getting deep into Oregon territory despite some handling errors. Oregon handicapped themselves as well and couldn’t mount a counterattack or clear the ball out of danger. The prolonged opportunity saw scrumhalf Hannah Lockwood, who typically plays flyhalf, take a weakside punch off a ruck from about 15 meters from Oregon’s tryline. She drew in two defenders, then hit wing Rachel Hausmann coming on at pace, 5-0 after 10 minutes.
A brutal stalemate ensued through the rest of the half, which was marked by a bevy of scrums. Momentum began to swing in the Ducks’ favor, and after a number of OSU penalties, Oregon was able to take a 7-5 lead into the half.
“At halftime, I usually aim to calm the players down, but I went for a little fire and brimstone because I could see they were letting this one go,” Dickson said. “Strategically, I thought we could attack their flyhalf. The Ducks were having trouble stopping strong runs from our flyhalf Caroline Midkiff, who's usually inside center, and inside center Sam Cueva, who's usually a forward. Although changing strategy in the second half didn't really pan out because the ball handling was so difficult, the Beavers really stepped up the intensity.”
The Ducks didn’t back down however, and OSU struggled to put together a coordinated attack. Finally, after some maintained pressure, lock Meghan McGuire crashed from the back of a ruck about three meters out and scored a try with about three minutes remaining in the game. Lockwood’s conversion made it 12-7.
The OSU defense held tight in the final minutes, as Oregon continued to batter to within striking distance. Had there been more time on the clock, a different outcome might have evolved, but OSU held on for the win.
“It was really a gritty, tough game,” Dickson said. “Both teams played with a lot of intensity and tried to make the best out of sloppy conditions. Like so many of the recent games between Oregon State and Oregon, this one was close and it could've gone either way right until the final whistle.”
The victory marked OSU’s first of the season, after dropping a heartbreaking 17-14 loss to Davis in the opening round and falling 34-10 to Stanford. The Beavers will look to improve to 2-2 this weekend against Chico. Oregon (0-2) isn’t scheduled to play again until March 3 against Cal, and has to reschedule their opening weekend games against Chico and Davis.