Savannah Defeats Hilton Head to Kickoff Season

The Savannah Shamrocks kicked off the second half of their matrix season with a victory over arch-rivals, Hilton Head Gators, in cold and wet conditions.  Right from the beginning, Hilton Head set out to prove that Savannah’s easy victories over them in the Fall would not be the case this Spring.  The opening 10 minutes of the game was a hard hitting affair with neither team’s backlines able to progress the ball efficiently and both teams relying on hard hitting and tough running from their forward packs in muddy field conditions.  Savannah opened the scoring in the 10th minute when prop, Teri Ransome plowed through the Gator’s forwards for a try near the post, conversion by flyhalf, Matthew Midgett (Savannah 7 – Hilton Head 0).  The Shamrocks applied continued pressure to the Gators and quickly found themselves back inside the opponents’ 22m line.  Eventually Savannah would be rewarded with a Hilton Head penalty in front of the posts and Midgett slotted the penalty kick for 3 points (Savannah 10 – Hilton Head 0).  The aggression really ramped up over the next 15 minutes as both teams rucked harder and tempers seemed to flare up occasionally on both sides.  After several failed attempts inside the Gators’ 22m line the Shamrocks were rewarded when scrumhalf, Gavin Rourke, saw a gap in the defense and was able to sneak through for the try, conversion failed (Savannah 15 – Hilton Head 0).  The remainder of the half would be played on Hilton Head’s side of the field but the Shamrocks were repeatedly denied at the try line and were forced to settle for a half time score of 15-0.

Halftime: Savannah 15 – Hilton Head 0

The second half started with some renewed interest by Savannah in playing smart rugby.  The Shamrocks were able to keep better possession of the ball and use it more effectively with their backline play.  A nice movement of the ball through the hands of the backline lead to fullback, Dontae Lawrence, setting up newly added right wing, Irving Cruz, for a try in the corner in the 47th minute, conversion missed (Savannah 20 – Hilton Head 0).  Savannah began kicking more than normal game play due to various openings in the Gators’ back three and were quickly able to move ball back into Hilton Head’s 22.  A strong line out led to a maul which was driven 10m forward resulted in a quick ruck and ultimately a pop to Ransome who blasted through for his second try of the game in the 52nd minute, conversion missed (Savannah 25 – Hilton Head 0).  Just as Savannah was smelling blood in the water Hilton Head mounted one of their longest strings of possession although they were unsuccessful in pushing the ball out of their own side of the field.  The Gators were able to spin the ball wide and find an overload on the outside but when their outside center attempted to spin the ball to their wing it was deftly intercepted by Cruz who was able to return the ball 20m, untouched, for the try, conversion missed (Savannah 30 – Hilton Head 0).  The Gators were again unsuccessful in clearing the ball out of their own end of the field and once again the Shamrocks were able to take advantage of strong line out.  They were able to drive the ensuing maul 15m over the try line with prop, Sean Coburn, scoring in the 74th minute, conversion by Cruz (Savannah 37 – Hilton Head 0).  In the closing minute of the game, Hilton Head was able to capitalize on a kick fielding error deep in their own territory and dove on a knocked on ball to score their only try of the game in the 80th minute, conversion successful (Savannah 37 – Hilton Head 7).

Final Score: Savannah 37 – Hilton Head 7

Men of the Match:

Forward – Teri Ransome

Back – Irving Cruz

In other news around the GRU, Athens hosted North Atlanta and defeated them 32-15.  Also, High Country travelled across town to take on Atlanta Renegades and pulled off the upset by defeating them 36-29.  It would appear that this season is wide open with all of the teams having a legitimate shot at winning the GRU and securing a place in the South Regionals.