Savannah and VSU showed up to the fields as it was thankfully announced that the kickoff would be delayed thirty minutes. Both teams appeared under the weather due to hard fought semi-finals the day before and perhaps some hard fought social endeavors later that evening. In the end Savannah would have to deal with several injured players leaving them with exactly 15 able bodies to take on the much younger college side sporting 24 men, although it might as well have been the brave 300 standing in the face of the Persian Horde. In a preview of things to come between these two team, since VSU has been added to the men’s division 3 matrix season this year, both teams look to leave the field with early bragging rights this season. Shamrocks undermanned, but undeterred, struck first when prop, CJ Regnet crashed through the forwards defense for the try, conversion by Tommy Moentmann (Savannah 7 – 0). Savannah struggled to get the backline much opportunity with the ball in the first half but when it was available they made the most of it. Starting at inside center for the final, Kevin Jackson, made a strong run, fending off numerous would be tacklers en route to a long try, conversion by Moentmann (Savannah 14 – 0). It was then that the long weekend and lack substitute players began to take its toll on the Rocks. Valdosta State took advantage of the situation and scored a try just near half time, conversion good (Savannah 14 – VSU 7).
Halftime Score: Savannah 14 – VSU 7
The second half saw Savannah thankful for the short half-time break and by sheer will and determination, Regnet, again plowed through the VSU forward pack for his second score of the day, conversion by Moentmann (Savannah 21 – VSU 7). A midfield scrum saw some of the most fireworks when it was forced to be reset several times and ultimately ended when Savannah collapsed and hooker, Kevin Dewey, came up with a lame shoulder. Without any substitutes on the sideline and valiant Georgia Southern alum stepped in and played out of position at lock as the Shamrocks scrambled to figure out their newly formed pack. After losing their starting hooker for the game, the Savannah lineout took a much worse than expected turn and the scrum did all they could to hold together the VSU onslaught. Valdosta, wisely smelling blood in the water, began to pour it on. Their fresh legs on the wing took hold of a long 60m break only to be run down from behind by Shamrocks’ fullback, Dontae Lawrence, who made a try saving tackle and held up the ball in the tackle. The ball would remain in Savannah’s end for several minutes until VSU made the most of their field position and scored a try in the backline near the corner flag, unconverted (Savannah 21 – VSU 12). Minutes later, VSU’s speedy wing would again make a long break down the sideline and seemed certain to score until Lawrence, flashing his game saving speed for a second time in the half, tracked him down at the try line and made a tackle which jarred the ball loose and out the back of the try zone. Once again, VSU would be able to take advantage of the field position and the tired legs of the Shamrocks and scored again, conversion successful (Savannah 21 – VSU 19). When all seemed to be fading for the Rocks and with the tactic on to make every effort to keep the clock rolling in their favor, a last ditch effort by the backs and forwards saw continued possession for the remaining 4 minutes of the game. Ultimately, Savannah was awarded a penalty 15m from VSU’s try line and Moentmann was called on to slot the kick (Savannah 24 – VSU 19). Full time was called immediately following the penalty and a triumphant roar was unleashed as the Savannah Shamrocks laid claim to the 2013 Black Rose Tournament Championship. Certainly a great preview of two upcoming league matches between these two teams as VSU played valiantly in the championship and were every bit the worthy opponent.
Generally, a word is said following a tournament about a man-of-the-match/tournament, and these awards are often taken with a grain of salt (often these grains are found around the rim of a tequilla shot or two) but after this tournament and given the courage and stregnth displayed by the 15 men who put on the green and gold – it is with great pride that I declare all 15 then men-of-the-tournament. It takes a lot of sand to play three games in the blistering heat on Saturday and still come back on Sunday to play a championship match. To do that and play the way these 15 men played makes me pround to even be affiliated with this club much less have the honor to play with and captain the side. Many people played out of position, hurt, dehydrated and without their teammates support and still won the day. That is the way you put your stamp on the opening of a season!
Final Score: Savannah 24 – VSU 19