Savannah Shamrocks started their 2013 season by traveling down to St. Simon’s Island and taking on the Golden Isles Hammerheads and travelled 22 men strong. With 8 new players putting on Shamrock colors for the first time and 3 of them in the starting lineup (one of them a forward by trade starting at outside center) the Shamrocks played even better than expected.
The Shamrocks opened the scoring on the day with a try by Gavin Rourke finishing off a well executed maul from a lineout 10m out. The try was unconverted (which was a theme of the day). Five minutes later the Hammerheads answered with a well placed chip kick from their center. He recovered his own kick off the bounce and touched down under the post untouched. The try was converted and Hammerheads took a 7-5 lead. From the point through half-time it was all Shamrocks, specifically the forward pack. Rourke continued to push the big boys through the Hammerhead line with well timed forward crash ball. Rourke scored his second try of the game (unconverted) making the score 10-7. The forwards continued their hard work at the break downs and were rewarded when once again they broke through the line with thunderous runs and try by Hank Lux (unconverted) making the score 15-7. With the forwards continuously outrucking their opponents they were awarded a penalty from 5m out which 8-man, Greg Woodruff, convereted into the fourth try of the half (unconverted), making the score 20-7. Just before the half whistle the Shamrocks were once again awarded a penalty for the Hammerhead being offside which was booted down to 8m out and the ensuing lineout was brought down into a successful maul which was once again score by Rourke, his third of the half (unconverted), making the score 25-7.
Halftime score Shamrocks 25 – Hammerheads 7
The second half opened with much stiffer defense from the Hammerheads and the Shamrocks played the first 10 minutes with backed into their own half of the field. Some good defense from the backline saved a few breakaway runs by the Hammerheads and the back three for the Shamrock, Kevin McKenzie, Bryan Rippee andd Blair Van Horn, did a great job tracking down numerous kicks. The backline was able to take advantage of a disorganized backline and Rippee was able to score the first try of his career (conversion by McKenzie), making the score 32-7. The remainder of the game was played deep in the Hammerhead’s half with the Rocks getting frustrated by not being able to finish several backline moves off with scores. However, the defense continued to play strong and capitalized on a ball that went to ground at the Hammerhead inside center’s feet which was quickly kicked through by Charles Campbell who was able to outrace the fullback to the ball and touch it down in the try zone for his first try with the club (conversion by Champbell), making the score 39-7. The forwards again went to work with punishing runs and quickly had the ball back into the Hammerhead’s redzone. The backline once again called for the ball with a massive overload, but Gavin “The Try Vulture” Rourke saw his opportunity to dart over the line from the back of a ruck for his 4th try of the game (unconverted), making the score 44-7. With about 12 minutes left to play in the game the decision was made to clear the benches and get many new players valuable playing time and they all exceeded their expectation for many men playing in the first rugby game ever. Newcomer to the pack, Rick Ventresca, was rewarded for his work rate and close support has he took in his first try of the season and the final score of the game (unconverted), making the score 49-7. The Hammerheads, showing no quit at all, pushed the ball down into the Shamrocks’ red zone for the final 5 minutes of the game but stout defense from the forward pack denied several attempts by the boys from Golden Isles to end the game with a final score. Huge hits on consecutive plays, including a forced knock on at the goal line, by flanker Ben Kochli secured the final score as the final whisle went off.
Final Score Shamrocks 49 – Hammerheads 7
|10||Matthew Midgett (c)|
|14||Matt Van Horn|