A battle broke out on Cole Field Saturday as men’s rugby set out to defend its home pitch against Amherst. The White Dawgs strode onto the field with a focused fury. They stalked their prey, pacing up and down the field, harnessing the energy into a booming rendition of the Dawgs refrain. The stage was set for the clash of two bitter rivals.
Williams put pressure on Amherst from the opening seconds of the game. A brilliant kick by Charles Toomajian ’11 put the White Dawgs close to the Black Donkeys’ try zone just two minutes into the game. After a perfect lineout, the forwards joined together to drive Amherst back to the five-meter line. Sensing an impending try, Steve Smith ’12, who hits like a man twice his size with the speed of a man half his size, grabbed the ball and touched it down for a Williams score. A missed conversion kick left the score at 5-0 Williams just three minutes in.
Not satisfied with a solitary try, the Dawgs kept the pressure on with strong rucking from the forwards and powerful running by the backs. A deep kick, bobbled by the Amherst fullback, allowed Corey Benson ’11 to punish the Black Donkey with a devastating tackle in the try zone. The result of this play was a five-meter scrum for Williams, which saw Brian Hartmann ’11 pass to Jay Gurney ’13 for another easy try. A successful conversion kick brought the score to 12-0 Williams.
A lucky series of plays allowed Amherst to score a try just as the half wound down, giving the team a small measure of hope and a halftime score of 12-7. The start of the half brought a second fluke for Amherst, as the Black Donkeys accidentally kicked the ball through the goal posts, earning three points and bringing the score to 12-10 by the 50th minute.
Head Coach Bruce Stephenson was “worried and metaphorically dying” on the sidelines watching Amherst narrow the gap. The men, however, refocused their minds for the systematic destruction of Amherst. After the ensuing kickoff, a breakaway run by Andrew Dominitz ’11 brought Williams down to the try zone. A melee occurred at the one-yard line, before Carl Whipple ’12 thrust himself forward and landed squarely inside the Amherst try zone, bringing the score to 19-10 Williams. An Amherst flyhalf screamed at his teammates to show some “soul” and stop the Williams onslaught, but his cries fell on deaf ears. A series of runs from the Williams backs allowed Benson to waltz into the try zone for a final try, bringing the score to 26-10.
The victory was sweetened by the image of 15 Donkeys removing their jerseys and handing them to the Dawgs. Dressed in black and purple, the Dawgs celebrated their victory surrounded fans who stormed the field with cries of “We just play for recreation” echoing throughout the Purple Valley. The men will play at Holy Cross on Saturday.