The Savannah Shamrocks men’s team traveled this past weekend to Atlanta to take on the Renegades in their regular season finale and came away with a very impressive victory on the road. The scoring was fast and furious in both halves for the Shamrocks and the Renegades did their fair share of scoring in the second half as well while Savannah was playing down a man for 30 minutes due to some ill-timed substitution errors and an unexpected injury. However, the victory has secured the home field advantage for Savannah in the GRU Championship against Athens on April 12.
The game itself started off on the wrong foot as many Shamrocks arrived to Atlanta’s pitch late due to heavy traffic on the southside of town. In addition to that, the referee informed Savannah that the game would be starting at 3:00 rather than 3:30. Rather than letting that throw them off the game, the Shamrocks, took out the frustration on the Renegades early and often. Only 4 minutes into the game, starting lock, Peter New, took advantage of a poor line out thrown and was able to secure the ball and the try, conversion by Irving Cruz (Savannah 7 – Atlanta 0). Three minutes later, 8-man, Gavin Rourke would plunge through the Renegades defensive line for a try, conversion by Cruz (Savannah 14 – Atlanta 0). The Renegades continued to have trouble on the restarts and Savannah took advantage with consecutive big runs from their forward pack. In the 12th minute, one such run by prop, Teri Ransome, would lead to another try, conversion by Cruz (Savannah 21 – Atlanta 0). Another punishing run by Ransome in the 16th minute would be supported well by flanker, Bruce Hicks, who would plow over for the score, conversion by Cruz (Savannah 28 – Atlanta 0). A mishandled ball would lead Atlanta into Savannah territory for the first time of the half and they were quick to capitalize on the defensive confusion to put themselves on the board, conversion unsuccessful (Savannah 28 – Atlanta 5). Savannah would get back on the board with another strong run by Ransome that was capped off with a controversial try, conversion by Cruz (Savannah 35 – Atlanta 5). Just before the close of the half the Savannah forwards would again be rewarded, this time by prop, CJ Regnet, finishing off a strong run for the try, conversion missed (Savannah 40 – Atlanta 5).
Halftime: Savannah 40 – Atlanta 5
The second half would see some mental lapses by the Shamrocks as the benches were emptied a little early to allow some well earned playing time for the men that had earned it in training. However, an injury to the scrumhalf 12 minutes in left the Shamrocks playing a man down the remainder of the game. Not to worry though, as lock Mike McCarthy scored his first try as a member of the Shamrocks, conversion by Matt Shover (Savannah 47 – Atlanta 5). The Renegades would take advantage of the man-down situation the Shamrocks were playing with and scored on an overload in the back line, conversion successful (Savannah 47 – Atlanta 12). Savannah answered immediately as wing, Gatty Summers, fielded a high kick and broke through two would be tacklers and dive over for the score, conversion missed (Savannah 52 – Atlanta 12). Once again Atlanta would answer with renewed effort in their rucks as they were able to touch down in the corner, conversion missed (Savannah 52 – Atlanta 17). It was at this point in the game when newly converted 8-man, Rourke, would catch fire and begin his own onslaught on the try line scoring twice in rapid succession, both of which were unconverted (Savannah 62 – Atlanta 17). The Renegades would strike back when their speedy wing took a run down the sideline and scored in the corner (Savannah 62 – Atlanta 22). The Shamrocks backs would finally get into the action as outside center, Kevin Jackson, took a well-timed pass and crashed through the defense, breaking several tackles en route to a try under the post, conversion by Midgett (Savannah 69 – Atlanta 22). Atlanta would once again set their wing free in space as he scored untouched by the Shamrocks defense, conversion missed (Savannah 69 – Atlanta 27). After several strong forward runs down the field the ball was spun wide for flyhalf, Matthew Midgett, who sold a dummy pass to his inside and scored under the post, conversion by Midgett (Savannah 76 – Atlanta 27). The game would come to a close as the try vulture himself, Rourke, would close out the scoring and the game with a try in the final seconds, conversion missed (Savannah 81 – Atlanta 27). It was a well earned victory by the Shamrocks who are playing some of the best rugby of the year heading into the playoffs. Hopefully, the confidence earned in this road victory will help the Rocks as they seek to move forward and earn a spot in the South Regionals.
Final Score: Savannah 81 – Atlanta 27