Notre Dame vs. Michiana Rugby Club

Picking this one up at half time with the Irish ahead 10 to 5

The pitch is a bit of a mess, soggy and The Irish are playing the tough Michiana Moose Rugby Club. They look a solid bunch of players who are really going to force Notre Dame into a tough second half of Rugby.

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The Moose kick it deep into ND territory and ND hold and the ball is kicked back down the right side over the half way and they make a good tackle. However, Michiana holds on well and play some strong forward play and attack strongly deep into the Irish half with good passing and teamwork forcing down the left side then swinging it back into the center along the 22.  Notre Dame’s defense stood up, and with the help of the soggy field and the Moose knock on, ND quickly snap up the ball and a couple of quick passes to the left and they are back at half way only to give the ball up attempting to switch directions.  However with such tough rucking at the breakdown, ND come away with the ball, working the ball deeper into Michiana territory first to the left and back to the right with some good continuous play by the Irish. Unfortunately the play breaks down on the outside with a silly pass nearly intercepted by Michiana.

The Irish win the scrum and bring the ball back into the center and Michiana is penalized as the Irish looked dangerous. They converted the penalty to bring the score to 13 – 5 Notre Dame.

The kick off fails to make 10 yards and it goes back to a centerfield scrum fed by ND. They win the ball and take it right, only to fumble. Both teams are showing some scrappy play as the Moose then drops the ball and the Irish snap it up only to turn it back over to Michiana. Strong running from the Michiana no. 3 and no. 9 rattle the defense and this time the Moose maintain good ball control and run through the ND defense under the posts. With the conversion its 13 – 12 Notre Dame.

From the kick off the Michiana team look suddenly energized and begin with a strong individual run that brushes of ND players back into ND territory. Soon the ball is worked left and back to the center where the Moose are right in front of the posts after strong efforts from their no 3 and no 10 and the Irish defend on their line tenaciously and force a scrum. Michiana attempts to stay close and try to get the ball in under the posts and ND holds firm and this time force a scrum to ND.  The Moose feel the game shifting to their control and they win the scrum, swing the ball out left and score near the corner with players on the ground across the field. The conversion fails and the score is 13 - 17 Michiana.

The Irish attack strongly from the kick off and Michiana fail to find touch with their kick and the Irish drive forward inside the 22 looking for a try, switching points of attack from the left and center then quickly to the right wing.  It’s the Moose’s time to defend and they are strong, forcing the Irish into touch. The Irish are penalized in the line out and this scoring opportunity is lost. With a good kick Michiana clear and when the Irish win the line out, poor ball handling gives it back to the Moose. Michiana makes an excellent kick deep into ND territory, but a quick return kick under a lot of pressure clears the ball from the Irish line. However, the strong forward play of Michiana is relentless, but the Irish fight back with spirited defensive play forcing enough errors to keep the Michiana boys from scoring and keeping them in the game. ND is penalized just left of the uprights and if Michiana converts, it might be the safety margin they need, but the kick dribbles along the ground.

The game continues with the strong attacks from Michiana and ND cannot seem to keep the ball long enough to make anything happen. They are continually defending and this must be taking a toll as the Michiana team are all very solid and physical, even if a bit lumbering and methodical. They are keeping the ball and ND must force the errors.

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Notre Dame wins a scrum and no 10 makes an impressive run up the middle sidestepping tacklers and kicks forward on the run only to get horse collared. ND gets the penalty, where the ball landed inside the Michiana 22. This must be nearly the last opportunity for ND as there are well inside the last 10 minutes now. The Irish attack from the right, into the center, and the Michiana team are defending strongly now. From a ruck on the left, No 19 of the Irish makes a solid run over the line, but cannot get it down and is stripped of the ball. Michiana clears and after ND is penalized twice in quick succession they are attacking inside the Notre Dame 22 to the right and across to the left with only a few minutes left Notre Dame forces them back with a kick, but they are soon attacking inside the 22 again. In a brilliant and opportunistic move the Irish No 15 anticipates the passing move out to the right and snaps the pass right out of Michiana hands at full pace and runs the entire field to make it 18 - 17 with under a minute to play. The conversion makes it  20 – 17 Notre Dame.

It’s not over with 30 seconds on the clock, the Irish lose the ball and are penalized and Michiana makes several attacking plays with zero time on the clock. The coach’s hearts must be in their mouths as they watch two, three strong attacking plays but eventually the Moose knock on and the game is over. Notre Dame wins.

The second half was a tough fight. Notre Dames defensive play kept them in the game and allowed them to take advantage of a quick opportunistic opening at the end. The ball handling and passing were pretty scrappy by Notre Dame although the Michiana team seemed to handle the slippery ball a bit better. They pressed and pressed today and must certainly feel a bit lost as to why they could not get over enough to win. That last penalty that they missed was certainly a lost opportunity.

For Notre Dame it was a bit of a scrappy win, the usual dominance in the scrums and in the line outs was less obvious today and the ball went to ground far too often, but good teams need these types of wins and need to find a way to win even when the run of play is moving against them and Michiana know they were a hairs breath away from taking this one even with no time left on the clock. Congratulation ND

Go Irish