The #2 ranked Savannah Shamrocks took on #1 ranked Athens Eagles in Forsyth Park this Saturday in a matchup of the last two undefeated teams in Division 3 of the Georgia Rugby Union and there were fireworks aplenty. Savannah opened up the scoring early in the 2nd minute of the game when rookie lock, Peter New, broke through the line for the try, conversion by Tommy Moentmann (Savannah 7 – Athens 0). The Eagles responded immediately in 5th minute with a nice execute finish by their very fast winger, conversion successful (Savannah 7 – Athens 7). Neither team lacked for nerves in this matchup and three minutes later Savannah would respond when several forward phases paid off as hooker, Jeremiah Shenefield, plowed over the try line, conversion unsuccessful (Savannah 12 – Athens 7). After the early opening flurry of scoring, Savannah’s defense began to settle down. A beautiful intercept near midfield saw 8-man, DJ Malcolm, streak down field until he was tackled near the 5m line. A penalty resulted in Malcolm taking a quick tap and finishing what he started for the try, conversion by Moentmann (Savannah 19 – Athens 7). Both teams ramped up the defensive intensity and the next 10 minutes were played near midfield. In the 25th minute the try vulture himself appeared as scrumhalf, Gavin Rourke, picked up from the back of the ruck and was able to weave his way down the sideline eventually scoring under the post, conversion by Moentmann (Savannah 26 – Athens 7). Continued pressure and possession was key as the Shamrocks immediately received possession from the kickoff within the Eagles 22m. Eventually, a penalty was conceded by Athens and was slotted through by Moentmann (Savannah 29 – Athens 7). Athens would find an answer for the early Savannah onslaught as their 8-man broke through a disorganized defensive line in the 38th minute for the try, conversion unsuccessful (Savannah 29 – Athens 12).
Halftime Score: Savannah 29 – Athens 12
The second half saw Athens hungry for the comeback. In the 45th minute, the Eagles counter attacked a poor kick and sent their speedy winger down the sideline for a 60m try under the posts, conversion successful (Savannah 29 – Athens 19). Savannah was able to respond quickly and retake possession of the ball deep in Eagles’ territory. A 5m scrum for the Eagles was stolen by a strong drive and allowed for Rourke to pick up and score his second try of the game easily, conversion by Moentmann (Savannah 36 – Athens 19). The game took a decidedly darker turn over the next 15 minutes as both teams allowed their tempers to flare up and yellow cards were assessed on both teams. With the game played 14 on 14, Savannah was able to take advantage in the 61st minute when a 22m drop out was counter attacked well, resulting in a try for fullback, Dontae Lawrence, conversion successful (Savannah 43 – Athens 19). Both teams resumed full strength for about 30 seconds before Athens received their second yellow card of the match. Playing a man down clearly made the comeback more difficult for the Eagles and the Savannah defense was up for the task as they were able to keep Athens off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game. Shamrocks ran out the clock and received the well earned victory. By far the best overall team performance by the Shamrocks who are peaking at the right time of the season. The victory secured a spot for the Shamrocks in the GRU Championship game where they will rematch the 4-1 Athens Eagles.
Final Score: Savannah 43 – Athens 19
Men of the Match: DJ Malcolm and Tommy Moentmann