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CLEMSON, S.C. — Arkansas State University used an explosive offensive showing to close out the regular rugby season by defeating Clemson University, 76-24, on the road Saturday afternoon. Arkansas State now prepares for the first round of the Varsity Cup playoffs Saturday, April 8, against the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.
“We haven’t been the team to score first this season, but in this game, we scored in the first minute,” said head coach Shaun Potgieter. “We were dominant in the backline, out wide, so we used that to our advantage and spread the ball. Most of our tries came from line breaks from the centers and wings.”
Barely into the game, the Red Wolves got on the scoreboard with the first of three tries on the day by Sione Fangaiuiha. Brock Roper’s successful conversation made the early score, 7-0, in favor of A-State. Clemson countered with a try to tie it up, 7-7.
“We struggled in the scrums in the first half,” continued Potgieter. “Clemson exploited that area and managed to draw penalties and get good field position from it.”
The Tigers scored twice more just before the halfway point, but not before A-State built the score with successful tries by Zach Young, Pedro Alvarez (two) and Calvin Gentry. The Red Wolves ended the first period ahead, 38-19.
Arkansas State picked up where it left off in the second half with Brandon van Niekerk upping the point total to 43-19 with his try. Preston Weigel added another and Young slipped the pass to Fangaiuiha for his third try on the day.
“Our forwards had a great day in the lineouts which help set up a good attacking platform for the backs,” Potgieter added.
Tabo Maree got in on the scoring with his try to make the score, 62-19. Clemson was held scoreless until late in the game when the Tigers added one last try to cut the score to 62-24.
Arkansas State closed out the game with tries by Neil Maestri and Val Balande.
“The game got a bit chippy in the last 15 minutes with a few off-the-ball incidents,” concluded Potgieter. “We need to keep our composure and worry about our own game for the full 80 minutes of the game. The scoreboard will tell the full story at the end of the day.”
—Photo by Daniel Pretorius