Match Report - Harvard vs Yale

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On this day, Yale hosted Harvard under overcast skies with a large crowd looking on. The fans consisted of students, alumni, and even members of other rugby teams, as Southern players came to cheer for the Yale team that it will periodically practice with throughout the season.

At first it seemed as though all those who came to support the Yale squad would not have much to cheer about. Harvard took advantage of some key penalties early in the game and was able to turn some consistent crashes into a try at about the 5 minute mark. A successful conversion made the score Harvard 7 Yale 0.

However, Yale quickly settled down and controlled the pace of the game and the battle for territory for the remainder of the half. The scrums were held pretty even at this time and throughout the game, with both teams controlling their own puts and not allowing much stolen ball. After some consistent phase play, winger Sam White 2008, picked up a lateral bouncing ball sent his way during a tackle by club president Sherman Wang (2007) and placed it over the try line for a score. An unsuccessful conversion left Yale down 7-5.

This would change about 10 minutes later into the half when inside center Thomas Kidd, 08’ broke the line on a simple crash ball and raced 40 meters for the try.

This would become a consistent theme on the day, as Harvard never quite found an answer for the elusive inside center. Another unsuccessful conversion left the Yale squad up 10-7 at the half.

The second half again opened with Harvard scoring first. A penalty kick about 5 minutes into the half left the score tied at 10. Again, however, Yale was equal to the task. They marched down the field on key runs by the back line, which was able to find space both out wide and in the centers, where injuries to the Harvard flyhalf and inside center left the Crimson defense backpedaling for most of the second half. Good support by the pack allowed scrumhalf Matt Finkelstein 2007 to find space off the side of a ruck and touch down the eventual game-winning try with about 25 minutes remaining in the game. Same Beutler 07’ converted the kick and Yale led 17-10.

From then on it would be defense that would win the game for Yale. Continued strong play in the pack allowed the squad to hold off Harvard’s persistent attack, and late in the half, key steals in the lineouts by the Yale squad saved possible tries deep in their own territory. After a score in the first 5 minutes of the game, Harvard would never see the try zone again. They managed only 2 more penalty kicks after the final Yale score and would eventually lose 17-16. The game was sealed, quite appropriately, as Kidd again broke the Harvard line late in the game, ran 50 meters and placed the Yale team deep in Harvard’s half, where they would remain until the final whistle blew.

Yale 17: Tries Thomas Kidd, Matt Finklestein, Sam White, Con Sam Beutler
Harvard 16: Tries Mike Hoffman, (3) Pen (1) Con Jean Sebastien Cagnioncle

The B-side also showed incredible promise. Although Yale would end up losing the match to the Harvard side, the young Yale side played well beyond its experience. The backs offloaded the ball in contact like a team that had played together for years, and solid tackling forced Harvard to work for every inch on the pitch. Playing especially well were Sam Cartmell 2010, whose sure open field tackling prevented multiple tries by the Harvard side and Patrick Madden 2010, who had many strong runs against the Harvard defense. Will Alexander 2010, also notched the first try of his career, Yale’s only of the day.

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