With a hard-won thumping of Knoxville Rugby Football Club on Saturday, Chattanooga Rugby Football Club’s Division II side clinched the Division Championship and earned its seventh consecutive win in a perfect season.
Nooga Red finished 56-17 over the Knoxville Possums.
—Matrix match: Competitive game played for standing within the division
—Try: Score worth five points
—Conversion kick: Kick worth two points
—Ruck: Mini-scrum occurring when the ball goes to ground and is not immediately picked up
Saturday’s match was a rescheduled date from early in the season—when snow forced a cancellation—and marked the first time the two teams had faced off this season.
The first half was an intense showing with aggressive Nooga Red offensive presses. The team successfully got the ball to the outside quickly for several impressive runs by wingers Steven Jones and Nick Bateman.
Jones had a hat trick on Saturday, and Bateman scored twice.
Knoxville answered Nooga’s first score with a drive deep into Nooga territory and then chose to kick for points directly in front of the posts rather than risk losing possession in attempting a try.
By the end of the first 40 minutes, Nooga racked up several tries, and though the kicking was not up to its usual level, the team had established a comfortable lead at halftime.
The second half was less heated as Nooga continued to add try after try to the board.
During both halves, the Possums attempted to capitalize on several fumbled Nooga passes, but support from pack players shut them down at the ruck or in the tackle.
Support plays and general pack strength came in handy more than once on Saturday. Prop Ethan Winel and lock Josh Jones both used their size to barrel through Knoxville’s defense, often moving the ball 10 meters up the pitch with three or more players hanging off of them.
Hooker Derek Hilley had an exciting breakaway in the second half that came right up to the five-meter line and would have been lost had flanker Abner Casavant not been in support to seamlessly continue the run for a try.
In total, on top of Jones’ and Bateman’s scores, eight man Pat Flynn earned one try, inside center Tom Snow scored twice and Casavant earned two tries. Lock Sam Koebley and flyhalf Luke Collins completed one conversion kick each.
Nooga Red will take on Knoxville again March 23 in Knoxville.
Nooga Black—CRFC’s Division III side—was on the road Saturday and logged a loss against Johnson City. The next fixture is scheduled for March 23 in Huntsville against Huntsville Rugby Football Club.