The Shamrocks looked to take the field against perennial Black Rose favorites the Exiles (Georgia Southern Alumni). The Exiles entered the game undefeated as well and the #1 seed in the tournament and right from the opening whistle it was clear that this was going to be a different sort of match for the green and gold. Gone were the soft rucks and runs punctuated by multiple missed tackles. Right from the beginning the Shamrocks, drained from two early matches, were backed up in the shadows of their own goal posts. The Exiles struck first with a well-executed (although disputedly legal) line out move which saw their strong running #8 score in the corner, unconverted (Shamrocks 0 – Exiles 5). The remainder of the half renewed everyone’s realization that this was in fact a contact sport with the ball. The ball seemed stuck between both teams’ 10m lines with neither team getting the upper hand. Both teams forwards took turns defending ferocious runs and the back lines were both asked to make several bone crunching tackles. The first half came to a close when the referee took mercy on both of our bruised bodies and decided to blow the whistle.
Halftime Score: Savannah 0 – Exiles 5.
After a rousing sideline speech by several members of the Shamrocks assuring that maintaining intesity would be what won the game, Savannah came out early in the half with even stronger rucking and attacking in numbers and were rewarded with second row, Hank Lux, plowed over for the try, converted by Tommy Moentmann (Savannah 7 – Exiles 5). Savannah continued to make run after run through their backline and forward pack and were again successful at the Exiles’ goal line when #8, DJ Pike, took a quick tap following a penalty and plunged over for the try, conversion missed (Savannah 12 – Exiles 5). The game returned to its normal meat grinder of a contest for the next 10 minutes and eventually Savannah would be rewarded with a penalty deep in Exiles territory. Moentmann was again called on for kicking duties and slotted the penalty goal (Savannah 15 – Exiles 5). A few minutes later a deep kick by fly-half, Cheffren Canady, saw a streaking fullback, Dontae Lawrence touch down what the fans and Shamrocks thought was an apparent try; however, the ruling on the field was that the ball was taken beyond the shallow try zone and quick 22m drop out was taken by the Exiles catching all but a few Rocks off guard. Some quick ball handling saw the Exiles score under the post leaving Savannah stunned, and the Exiles back in the game, conversion successful (Savannah 15 – Exiles 12). For the remaining 4 minutes the Exiles had possession of the ball but were trapped deep in their own territory. The referee announced the final play at a 5m scrum deep in Exiles territory and the Shamrocks were on their toes for what they knew would be an attempt to run and keep possession by the Southern alumni. Fortunate would favor the aggressive on this occasion as the #8’s pass would sail just high of the on coming winger and flanker, Johnny Rea, was there to scramble for the loose ball on the ground in the try zone to seal the victory for the Rocks, unconverted (Savannah 20 – Exiles 12).
An amazingly hard fought match that left only one game to return for on Sunday as the Shamrocks were able to watch the second semi final and scout Valdosta State as they defeated SunTan in a similarly hard fought semi final.
Final Score: Savannah 20 – Exiles 12