Men’s rugby (4-1) was still riding the high of its Oct. 13 win against Plymouth State coming into last weekend’s matchup, in which the men were able to squeak out a narrow 11-10 win against Wesleyan.
Wesleyan, playing on its school’s homecoming and the club’s 50th anniversary, arrived to the pitch hungry and ready to do some damage. After the kickoff, the White Dawgs quickly pounded the ball down into the opponent’s territory, maintaining possession and preventing the Old Men from getting off any kicks. However, once inside of 10 meters, Williams was repeatedly stymied as the men attempted to advance into the try zone. After Wesleyan was awarded a penalty for hands in the ruck, it kicked back down field and the momentum rapidly began to change.
The White Dawgs took a heavy blow midway through the first half when fullback James Elish ’13 and flanker Hamza Zaidan ’14 both went into a tackle and banged heads. Elish, the team’s main kicker, ended up leaving the game with an injury, and Zaidan was forced off soon after. While the White Dawgs continued their dominance of opposing scrums in the first half, they huddled up at halftime tied 5-5 with the Old Men, their only points coming from a try by captain Jay Gurney ’13.
Williams continued to struggle in the second half, giving up a try to Wesleyan early on. However, two key penalty kicks from Gurney, who accounted for all of the team’s points, eventually put Williams in the lead for good. “We didn’t play our best game,” Gurney said after the game. “But we stuck with it and closed out the narrow victory.”
After falling just short to Amherst twice last year, the Williams ‘A’ side is excited and ready to return the favor this weekend. Behind a veteran forward pack that has steadfastly protected the ball throughout the season and an athletic back-line that has shown signs of brilliance in the last few games, the men have battled their way to a successful 4-1 record this season. The most important test still lies ahead, however, and the White Dawgs will not be satisfied until they have taken the shirts off the Black Donkeys’ backs.
Saturday’s game against Amherst kicks off at 1 p.m. at Cole Field.