Men’s rugby exacts revenge on Middlebury

For the second time in as many weeks, the WRFC turned in a thoroughly dominating performance and coasted to victory behind solid team play. This week, the White Dawgs avenged one of last season’s only losses while posting an amazing 70-point turnaround from last season, thrashing Middlebury 35-5.

Fresh off their fall conference championship, Middlebury posed a significant threat to Williams with a lineup replete with international players from rugby-rich South Africa and Wales. However, these transfers proved no match for the superior athleticism and team play of the WRFC.

The scoring began in now-expected Williams fashion, with powerful ball-control by the forwards yielding a crisp backline play which set speedster Chido Alozie ’01 free around the outside for a 5-0 advantage. Alozie would prove unstoppable all afternoon, as his speed was more than a match for the entire Middlebury line. Williams struck again soon after with brilliant teamwork from a midfield line-out. Nick Weiss ’00 and Fyfe Hall ’01 dominated line-out play, easily lifting 8-man Joe Sensenbrenner ’00 far above the Middlebury line for consistent offensive takes and frequent defensive steals. A solid line-out and drive upfield could not be stopped by the weaker Middlebury pack, and the Williams forwards powered their way into Middlebury territory. Producing the ball to the backs, John Crowley-Delman ’01 and Marc Barreda ’99 drove further upfield. Sensing an imbalanced defense, flankers Matt Bryson ’99 and Joe Seavey ’01 quickly reversed the ball, and Ryan Kurlinski ’01 and Forrest Wittenmeier ’02 attacked the confused Middlebury defense, resulting in a second try for Alozie on the wing. The conversion by Kurlinski made the score 12-0 in favor of the White Dawgs.

Middlebury would prove unable to generate any offense, as solid Williams defense kept them at bay. On offense, Williams began to take advantage of its superior speed. Pop kicks by scrum-half Paul Bethe ’00 and fly-half Kurlinski constantly found open space, and with Barreda and Alozie giving chase, Middlebury was unable to effectively clear the ball. The constant offensive pressure generated two penalties for Williams, and Kurlinski was able to convert both for an 18-0 halftime advantage.

The second frame was more of the same, with beautiful running on the outside by Alozie and fullback Forrest Wittenmeier ’02 combined with interior running by Weiss, Bethe, and Todd Stiefler ’00. After a nifty weakside combination by Sensenbrenner and Barreda moved the WRFC within scoring distance, Bethe was able to find a seam up the middle to score, dragging three Middlebury ruggers the final five meters. A conversion and one penalty kick later, Williams had the victory sealed. Unfortunately, the only two Williams mistakes were to come back to back, as a long kick-off was not cleared and a bouncing Middlebury pop-kick found open space, allowing the lone Middlebury score. Williams recovered and slammed the door on the MRFC, literally, as Ben McAnaney ’01 put Middlebury’s best offensive player out of the game with a crushing sideline tackle.

To put the finishing touches on the victory, Williams won yet another line-out inside the Middlebury 20 meter line. With the pack driving forward, Seavey took a pass and bulled his way into the try zone to end the game, giving Williams a 35-5 victory. In equally stunning fashion, the WRFC B’s completed the sweep by grinding out a victory over a solid Middlebury side, showing their readiness for Amherst in two weeks’ time.

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