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Mudturtles vs. Bergen 5/21/18

Posted on 5/24/2018 by Mudturtle Rugby |   Return To Blog

The Union County Mudturtles (7-0 league play, 11 - 4 overall) returned home late Saturday night from the 2018 Boys High School Rugby National Championship to face off with Bergen RFC in the New Jersey Club semi-finals. The Union team finished 1-2 at the Nationals with a win over Phoenix Alpharetta (GA) and a close loss to St. Thomas Aquinas after facing off and loosing against eventual Tier II winner San Diego Mustangs.

The tired Mudturtles rebounded on Sunday to kit up for their playoff game against a big and bruising Bergen side. The Union team got off to a slow start, allowing Bergen to go up 5-0. After some strong attacks by both sides were thwarted by stonewall defenses, it seemed as if this was going to be a low scoring defensive contest.

Late in the 1st half, Bergen set up for a penalty and started to put up a formidable attack only to have the ball stripped by 8-man Manny Ocoro from the Bergen winger on the near sideline. The Union backline formed a quick attack line as winger Sam DiDominico came into contact for yet another ruck. At this point, scrumhalf Sean MacLaney saw some daylight on the weak side and picked up the ball. He broke thru a number of tackles for a 30 meter scamper to finally give a pop pass offload to Prop Jordan Barham who plowed over the try line for the first Union try of the game. This play served as the spark that Union needed to take control of the game. Center Ryan Dones was able to unleash one of his typical massive runs and push the Mudturtles to a 12-5 halftime lead.

In the second half, the Mudturtles shook off past three days of hard fought rugby and came back to form as they put up two quick tries by Center Ryan Rhatigan who also converted them, giving the Mudturtles a 26-5 lead. Bergen fought back to score another try. However, the Mudturtles were able to take advantage of their depth when winger Jack Etlinger subbed onto the field to receive a quick pass moments later and turned on the jets for a 30 meter try run. Rhatigan finished the game with a hat-trick and a total of 4 conversions to give the Mudturtles a 38-10 win.

Union 38 - Bergen 10

They will face off in the New Jersey State Club Championships next Saturday, May 26, 2018 against Jersey Shore RFC who sent a statement by beating Morris RFC 12-10. In the prior week, Morris handed Jersey Shore a decisive loss 27-10 in rainy, muddy conditions. This win set up a Morris versus Jersey Shore matchup of the # 2 and #3 teams in the state. The Jersey Shore lads were able to learn something from their previous match up and turn it into a victory.

Morris 10 - Jersey Shore 12

The single school state championship will see a rematch of last year's opponents, St. Augustine versus Delbarton. St. Augustine won over St. Peters Prep as Delbarton was victorious over Christian Brothers Academy.