Another weekend of EPRU, MAC, and USA Rugby action! The match up here was a formidable one, with both teams having qualified for the playoffs in the Spring of 2018. In the Spring, The Lancaster Roses fell narrowly to a Raleigh side that was defeated by the Dragons in the regional semifinal, on their way to a 5th place showing in the nation. Doylestown was interested in solidifying their first place standing and undefeated season leading in to their bye week. Lancaster was interested in rewriting the narrative of the MAC North and sending a message that there was still plenty to play for on this side of the league.
Focus in the weeks leading up to this tough league clash centered wholly around defense. As anyone who has watched the Doylestown Dragons Division II rugby side in the last years can tell you, offense has never been a problem for DRFC. With a multitude of talented players capable of breaking the game wide open at any moment, an ability to score from anywhere at anytime has dictated the score lines of the last few years of league play.
It seems official at this point that there won’t be a fall in Eastern Pennsylvania, but, that only serves to help with additional conditioning and preparation for the Spring season at this point. The heat and humidity were apparent again on Saturday. The match opened up with Doylestown being led into battle under the captaincy of Steve Kornock as his brother, Dave, continues to recover from an injury to his shoulder. Unlike many previous matches, there was no delay in Doylestown firing up the engines for this game. From the opening moments of the game the play was tough and forwards centric. In missing the services of flyhallf Dylan Hamilton, and utility back Matt Frederick, the only play was to rely on the skill and mobility of the pack. In didn’t take long for the defensive discipline and respect for the ball to pay off with Dylan Pellegrino scoring a pushover try in the corner off the back of a 5 meter line out. These key scores off the back of set pieces are becoming a bit of a trend for the feisty flanker from Bloomsburg. While Steve Kornock was unable to tack on the conversion, he made right with a well struck penalty mere minutes later. Another Lancaster penalty, another opportunity for points taken well by Doylestown.
The defense put forward by Doylestown throughout was superior and is what dictated the entire game. The next points came from an extended period spent within the Doylestown half. While their defense and tackling were strong, an inability to force the turnover and escape their end resulted in an eventual try from Lancaster through the forwards. While the Lancaster offense may have lacked creativity, they had a handful of tough runners who challenged Doylestown throughout. It didn’t take long for the lads to strike back. Fellow Bloomsburg alum and flanker, Aaron Green, touched down next. All points were earned through hard work in this one. This wasn’t a game about big breaks but about steadiness. Steve Kornock converted Green’s try as well as the next one from Andrew Decolli. This one was a long time coming with the prop having played a pivotal role in so much winning rugby in recent weeks.
The halftime score sat at 20-5. A comfortable lead for DRFC. Most importantly, there was pride at halftime in the defense put forth for all 40 minutes.
The second half started much like the first. Defensive intensity on both ends was a great exhibition for the quality in the league. Though, this time, it was Lancaster that struck first but through very little fault of the Dragons. Soon after, having missed a game, a rare occasion, Eric French announced himself back on the scene with a classic try to retake a firm and comfortable lead. A lead that would only increase in the next 10 minutes as, rookie Kevin Mirales showed exactly what type of men’s player he is going to be with two wonderful support lines, both resulting in trys for DRFC. Steve Kornock was good on 2/3 conversions and, with about 15 minutes left to play, the score was 41-10 Doylestown.
Substitutions had been rolling since the 50th minute and extensive experience was being had by many of the younger, newer players on the team. In the interest of the club continuing it’s growth and dominance in the future, nothing is more important. Beyond Kevin Mirales, enough praise can not be heaped on Jeremy Ault. Starting at flyhalf for the first time for Doylestown he properly led a tactical offense and a high pressure, punishing defense.
In the final minutes of the game Lancaster dug deep and managed to touch down two trys of their own. Final score 41-22. It was, all in all, a phenomenal performance from Doylestown and one that would not go unnoticed in the league.
Man of the Match: Matt Hartwell
Next Match: 10/20 at Philadelphia Whitemarsh