Savannah v. Valdosta State (week 6 – Matrix Season)

Savannah traveled the three and a half hours to Valdosta, Georgia with the hopes of closing out their second ever undefeated season and right from pre-game warm ups it didn’t look promising.  Savannah was able to travel with only 16 able bodies due to some ruggers nursing injuries, ridiculous commitments to running marathons, or what ever other excuses which were given and immediately ignored.  However, for the 16 that showed up it would be a game to remember.  Valdosta’s pregame warmups included some 28 young, fit, rugby players – it might as well have been the People’s Liberation Army given their numbers.  No matter, the Shamrocks dominated the opening minutes of the game with some hard running and good possession.  In the 8th minute they were rewarded when outside center, Kevin Jackson, plowed through his opposite number for the try, conversion unsuccessful (Savannah 5 – VSU 0).  Minutes later the Shamrocks found themselves back in Blazer territory and were rewarded with a penalty directly in front of the posts.  The decision was made and inside center, Cheffren Canady, slotted the penalty in the 12th minute (Savannah 8 – VSU 0).   Valdosta would regain their compusure and take advantage of a knock on, quickly distributing the ball to their backline and making a long break in the 19th minute for the try, conversion successful (Savannah 8 – VSU 7).  The Shamrocks would answer in the 25th minute when scrumhalf, Gavin Rourke, was able to fly through in true try-vulture styel for the score under the post, conversion by Canady (Savannah 15 – VSU 7).  Valdosta would keep the pressure on by taking advantage of another turnover ball and through some very hard rucking and running were able to earn themselves a 5m penalty.  Savannah was unable to stop their massive prop on the goal line as he dove over for the score, conversion successful (Savannah 15 – VSU 14).  Savannah again pressed the ball deep into VSU’s half and were rewarded with another penalty in front of the goal post which Canady converted in th 34th minute (Savannah 18 – VSU 14).  VSU’s defense was caught off-guard following a stolen line out and flanker, Bruce Hicks, was able to blast through a gap in the defense to score under the post untouched in the 38th minute, conversion by Canady (Savannah 25 – VSU 14).  The Shamrocks were caught in celebration mode in the hopes that the remaining seconds of the 1st half would simply tick away; however, the Blazers had other thoughts and capitalized on sloppy defensive play by the Rocks to secure a last second try in the 1st half in the 40th minute, conversion successful (Savannah 25 – VSU 21).

Halftime Score (Savannah 25 – VSU 21).

The second half would show the difference in the two clubs’ fitness levels as the Blazers continued their hard running onslaught and the Shamrocks willed themselves to simply stay in front of the younger forward pack runners from Valdosta.  For the first 20 minutes of the second half it was a complete war of attrition as Savannah’s hooker, Kevin Dewey, had to be temporarily replaed due to blood and several other players required a minute of injury time to piece back together their broken limbs and shattered senses of self worth.  Finally, the Shamrocks players could take no more and gave up a try to the Blazers in the 61st minute, conversion unsuccessful (Savannah 25 – VSU 26).  This would mark the first time all season that the men from Savannah were trailing during the second half of a contest.  It was unusual territory for the Shamrocks and for the next few minutes they began to hit and ruck with a renewed effort.  However, costly handling errors ended possession after possession.  Finally, the Shamrocks received the break they had been looking for when the back line made a break through the middle of the field, were tackled short of the goal line, but were rewarded with an offsides penatly against VSU at the ruck.  The decision was made to test Canady’s boot one more time and his kick slotted through just inside the right upright in the 72nd minute (Savannah 28 – VSU 26).  The remaining 8 minutes of the game showed exactly what heart and character the 16 guys from Savannah had brought with them.  Every player did their absolute best to defend the gain line and attempt to turn over possession against the Blazers.  Eventually, VSU would commit a diving over penalty on their offensive ruck and the ball was subsequently put deep into touch with the referees merciful whistle sounding indicating that the Shamrocks had done the improbable, complete an undefeated matrix season. 

Final Score: Savannah 28 – VSU 26