Savannah’s week three opponent was the surprising upstart Valdosta State Blazers. Both teams came into the matchup sporting 2-0 records and this game was a rematch of the closely contested Black Rose Championship game last month. The Blazers came in looking to not only avenge their loss to the Rocks at the Black Rose Tournament, but also knowing that the winner of the game could take a strangle hold on the conference standings. The game opened up with a flurry of scoring by both teams, sparked by an early forward move from the back of a scrum with ball moving from 8-man, DJ Malcolm, to flanker, Jonny Rea, and ultimately to fly-half, Matthew Midgett, who scored in the corner in the 2nd minute of the matchup, unconverted (Savannah 5 – VSU 0). Valdosta would answer quickly with some good movement through their backline as their inside center touched down a well supported run under the posts, conversion good (Savannah 5 – VSU 7). Savannah found themselves down for the first time all season and responded by giving some hard runs and rucks and were ultimately rewarded with a penalty in from of the posts. The penalty was slotted by Midgett in the 12th minute (Savannah 8 – VSU 7). The Blazers would come right back with some punishing runs by their forward pack. VSU’s lock eventually plowed through the Rocks’ defense for a try in the 15th minute, unconverted (Savannah 8 – VSU 12). The scoring continued a break neck pace as the Shamrock’s scrums and lineouts were repeatedly dominated by Malcolm who spoiled several VSU lineouts and made break after break from back of well won scrums until he was rewarded from a perfectly executed move with scrum-half, Gavin Rourke, feeding him from the back of a scrum for him to twist through for a try, unconverted (Savannah 13 – VSU 12). The next 20 minutes were played in the center of the field with both teams taking their turns at running at the opposition’s defense with limited success. As the half wound to a close, Rourke, found a way (as the Try Vulture always does) to spin out of a tackle, or three, to score near the post in the 40th minute, conversion by Midgett (Savannah 20 – VSU 12).
Halftime Score: Savannah 20 – Valdosta State 12
Early in the second half the Shamrocks pushed the ball deep into VSU territory and after some quick rucks had the ball out to the backs when Midgett chipped a grubber kick through a gap in the back line and wing, Adam Best, was able to dive on the ball just before it went into touch-in-goal for his first try of his career, unconverted (Savannah 25 – VSU 12). Valdosta responded when their fly-half broke the line again for a try in the corner in the 55th minute, unconverted (Savannah 25 – VSU 17). Savannah’s team picked up the momentum and began relying on their system to play controlled rugby and were rewarded when flanker, Jonny Rea, was able to take a hard punch over the line for the try in the 60th minute, conversion by Midgett (Savannah 32 – VSU 17). Sensing blood in the water, the Shamrocks began pouring it on, with several strong runs and great support play. Malcolm was able to take a strong run wide from the back of a ruck and found a streaking support run from inside center, Mark McWhorter, who ran through and fended off the VSU fullback for a try under the posts, conversion by Midgett (Savannah 39 – VSU 17. Savannah then appeared to run out of steam just as VSU’s younger, fitter players went into a frenzy in an attempt to come back. in the 75th minute, VSU elected to take a penalty kick from 10m out which was good (Savannah 39 – VSU 20). Just when Savannah looked to have the game in hand, one of their few handling errors, saw VSU steal a ball inside their own 5m line and quickly distribute the ball out to their speedy outside center who ran 90m, zig-zagging his way through the defense for the try in the 77th minute, conversion good (Savannah 39 – VSU 27). Savannah was able to compose themselves and retain possession and frustrate the Blazers attempts to steal the ball. In the 80th minute a scrum was awarded 15 m from the Shamrocks try zone when the referee announced it would be the last set piece of the match. The scrum was solidly secured and fly-half, Midgett, elected to take a shot at a drop goal which was successful as the final whistle sounded and the Shamrocks became the only undefeated team in the conference (Savannah 42 – VSU 27).
Final Score: Savannah 42 – VSU 27