In the finale of the spring season, the highly touted Amherst rugby football club arrived at Cole field confident of victory. They left looking for new shirts. Williams emerged undefeated in two games on Saturday, humiliating the Amherst A-side 32-7 and playing to a 3-3 tie in the B-side contest.
The Williams A’s dominated every facet of their game, punishing the Jeffs with powerful ball-controlled offense, precise passing, and aggressive defense. Nick Weiss ’00 provided powerful scrum running all day, and rucking by Fyfe Hall ’01 and captain John Pickard ’99 allowed the WRFC to drive the Jeffs downfield.
The Amherst attack was kept at bay by determined defense from flankers Joe Seavey ’01 and Matt Bryson ’99. The Williams set play was phenomenal, as Ian Lewis ’01 proved unstoppable in winning line-outs, and the scrum front-row of Todd Stiefler ’00, Ben McAnaney ’01, and Weiss dominated their opposites. Scrum-half Paul Bethe ’00 and fly-half Ryan Kurlinski ’01 provided solid leadership and excellent fieldwork in dictating play.
On the line, captain Keil Mueller ’99 and John Crowley-Delman ’01 broke down the Amherst backs with tough inside yards, while the speed and athleticism of fullback Forrest Wittenmeier ’02 and wings Marc Barreda ’99 and Chido Alozie ’01 found open space on the outside. Williams began the scoring in the first half when a series of rucks and runs put the WRFC within the Amherst 10 meter line. Despite meeting tough defense, Williams maintained possession and scored as Bethe bulled his way into the try zone, dragging defenders with him. Kurlinski converted the attempt for a 7-0 lead. Soon after, a penalty kick by Kurlinski made the score 10-0. Williams continued to pound, and a beautiful run by eight-man Lewis set up a second try for Bethe. The conversion by Kurlinski made it 17-0 at the half, leaving Amherst shocked and bewildered.
Williams upped the score to 20-0 with a second penalty conversion by Kurlinski early in the second half. Amherst continued to fight, however, and the Jeffs made a game of it by scoring after a beautiful kick put them within the Williams’ 10 meter line. With the score at 20-7, Williams slammed the door on the ‘Herst. Winning a line-out 25 meters from the Amherst goal, the scrum ran a beautiful set play, barreling its way through the Amherst defense and providing the ball for Seavey, who made no doubt about his intent, powering in for the score. Williams added a final try, with the game out of reach at 25-7, passing the ball down the line to Alozie, who burned past the tired Amherst defenders and down the home-sideline for a triumphant score. Final tally: Williams 32 Amherst 7.
The B-side game proved to be a much more contested affair. Amherst fielded a team replete with several A-side holdovers and boasted a much larger scrum. The game began in Amherst’s favor, as the Jeffs threatened early from the Williams 5 meter line. But the Williams B’s proved undaunted, and the team displayed a mighty 10 minute defensive stand that tested the mettle of every player. Amherst challenged on four consecutive scrum-downs, but the frontline of Asa Johnson ’02, Ian Watterson ’99, and Jay Corell ’99 held strong, and solid tackling by Christian Rubio ’99, Kenny Marines ’01, and Matt Lipinsky ’02 kept Amherst from scoring. Amherst continued to test, but on their sixth straight scrumdown they were called for a penalty, and Williams cleared the ball and denied the score.
On the offensive, Williams began to dominate the contest. Tough running by centers Scott Comstock ’02 and Nicholas Brandt ’02 kept the WRFC in business, and the pack responded with excellent play of their own, as Steve Taylor ’01 and Joe Sensenbrenner ’00 led the way. A penalty allowed Williams to take a 3-0 lead, as Bob Kaufman ’01 converted the kick for the WRFC. Williams continued to assert itself, testing the Amherst defense on kicks from Emmett Tracy ’02 and strong scrum running from Mike Recht ’02. Despite dominating the second half, though, Williams was unable to add to its lead.
In the last five minutes of the game, Amherst improved its play and took advantage of several loose balls, but wing Morgan Barth ’02 and Tracy made sure that no try was going to be scored. A questionable no-call on a high tackle gave Amherst the ball inside the Williams 20, and with a minute remaining Williams was called for a penalty. Amherst converted, and was able to salvage a 3-3 tie despite being thoroughly outplayed by a smaller WRFC lineup.