Notre Dame vs. Arizona State
Written by: Neville Henry
Its Tuesday night and the game is scheduled for a 7 pm kick off at the Sun Devil's soccer stadium. I hope we will all be able to get Rugby fields one day. Besides the kickers get it easy.
The weather was fantastic as the teams warmed up to play for the Nash Cup in honor of a young former ASU player.
As we rose to hear the National Anthem a little after dusk, the scene was quiet, but the recording failed and failed again, then from the field rose the voices of the team's lead by the Men of Notre Dame and then joined by the stands what a moving moment as the chorus rose to the Star Spangled Banner that challenged any I've heard. I hope the camera was rolling. It probably should go viral on YouTube.
The game began with strong set plays from Notre Dame and from the outset it appeared that the ND Team had kept up its discipline and possibly even stepped it up. There was some concern as they had lost their scrum half to a shoulder injury and he was also the kicker. However it was to become clear from that there was real depth in this team.
Once again the team began to dominate in the set plays, the scrums, the line outs. The forwards continued to bruise ASU with their tackling. This time ND controlled the ball and were patient and the number of turnovers were low. ASU on the other hand despite tackling strongly and having a few strong runs found themselves frustrated because of the lack of ball.
This ASU team is ranked above Arizona and should have been able to top Notre Dame. However, early in the half Notre Dame made a fine drive and completed a great piece of uninterrupted rugby from just inside the half to score in the left corner.
ASU fought back and matched Notre Dame much of the later part of the first half. ND was pressing on ASU try line and had a five yard scrum but turned it over and ASU quickly pressed the advantage with good rugby and eventually ran round ND at the corner and across to score under the posts. The drop attempted conversion failed. Half Time 5 - 5. It had been a pretty bruising half and stamina would play a large part in this game.
As the second half began it became obvious that ASU were even more determined but many of their attacks ended in penalties as they continued to go over the top and kill the ball. Eventually ND had one that they converted for a score of 8 - 5. When ASU had possession though Notre Dame had their men covered and kept them covered, ASU star players had nowhere to go and no-one free.All their possessions ended up as a scrum or line out and that ND controlled. Notre Dame continued to press and went in for a try that was converted. 15 -5. Notre Dame continued to win the ball in both their and ASU scrums and line outs. Penalties hurt ASU continually even giving one away when they looked like scoring on the ND try line. Their was some scrappy passing by ND in the centers that kept ASU closer than they should have been in both the first and second halves but the fundamental strength was control of possession, not letting turnovers end up in points and getting the ball back as ASU ran out of play options.
With about 20 minutes to go ND scored another team try and outplayed ASU to the finish. As time ran out ASU made a long kick from their 22 and Notre Dame failed to hold possession and kick the ball out this allowed ASU to get in and add some respect the final score. 22 - 12
Congratulations Notre Dame for a strong performance and winning the first Nash Cup.