Vassar Dominates in Wins Over Bard and Oneonta

By Tony Brown

Annandale-on-Hudson – The Vassar College Men’s Rugby squad had a day to remember having traveled the short 45 minutes north to their neighbors Bard College. Under a sunny sky, the Vassar teams dominated from start to finish against Bard and Oneonta. Man clearly triumphed over the birds of prey and mythical Red Dragons scoring 25 tries in four games of 7s and only conceding one try in 7s play.

Bard College Tournament
Schedule of games
Bard College A 0 v 41 Vassar College A
SUNY-Oneonta A 0 v 31 Vassar College B
Bard College A 0 v 36 Vassar College B
SUNY-Oneonta A 7 v 47 Vassar College A

Vassar College A 59 v 5 Bard & Oneonta Combined XV
Game 1: Vassar College A 41 v 0 Bard College
Tries: TJ Usher (2), Olly Skeet-Browning (1), Eli Schair-Rigoletti (1), Kiran Mullen (2), Benson Cao (1).
Cons: Olly Skeet-Browning (3).

Vassar did a good job for the second weekend in a row moving the ball from touchline to touchline but the difference on this occasion was that players took the space out wide when it was available.

Two quick scores from freshman TJ Usher should have been enough to settle any nerves but there were still some very avoidable mistakes that littered the performance. In fact, it was to be a theme for the day. Vassar would seem totally in control, unflustered whether back peddling or moving the ball about, and then a poor pass or bad decision would halt their flow.

At flyhalf, Olly Skeet-Browning is a balanced runner and good thinker but even he will admit to some strange wayward passes. Matheo Dwyer at scrumhalf did a nice job at times getting the ball away from congested areas but he too threw some passes that would’ve hurt the team against better opposition.

In the second half and with Vassar leading 30-0, Dwyer made a break down the blindside from a scrum. He was tackled just short of the line and prop forward Benson Cao picked up and dived in for a try. It was his first ever try for the Brewers and the cheer from the touchline echoed around the Mid-Hudson Valley.

All in all it was a comfortable start and Bard had no answers to the evasive running of the Brewer 7.

Team: 1 Benson Cao 2 Kaiden Tocher 3 Kiran Mullen 9 Matheo Dwyer 10 Olly Skeet-Browning 12 TJ Usher 14 Eli Schair-Rigoletti
Game 2: Vassar College B 31 v 0 SUNY-Oneonta
Tries: Nigel Trenh (1), Mark Gislason (1), Will Smith (2), Dimitrios Tzepois (1).
Cons: Mark Gislason (3).

Sevens can be a very simple game and just getting the ball to a speedster in plenty of space means good things happen. Nigel Trenh has speed and power and after some swift handling from a set piece he showed the Oneonta defenders the number on the back of his jersey. Then Vassar’s novice flyhalf Mark Gislason scooted through to make it 10-0 and the Red Dragons were stunned. Rookie Caiden Fine looked sharp and does have the pace to be effective but chances fell to his teammates on this bright afternoon.

Vassar’s big lad, Will Smith, aka Finn, is strong in contact and he was rewarded for his efforts collecting a brace of tries, one in each half. What the B 7 lacked in polish when compared to their A-side counterparts they more than made up for with effort and zeal. This was personified in Dimitrios Tzepos aka Meech who ran very directly and was quite evasive at times.

Scrumhalf Phil Knowlton is a thoughtful player and he is brave but he needs to speed up his pass from the ground to give his outside backs more time.

Team: 1 Dimitrios Tzepos 2 Justin Lederer 3 Will Smith 9 Phil Knowlton 10 Mark Gislason 12 Caiden Fine 14 Nigel Trenh.
Game 3: Vassar College B 36 v 0 Bard College
Tries: Dimitrios Tzepois (4), Nigel Trenh (2).
Cons: Mark Gislason (3).

This game looked like being a one-man show as Dimitrios Tzepos ran strongly around, through and over would be Bard tacklers scoring the first 4 tries for the Brewers! All were converted and Vassar led 28-0 and it seemed that few if any of the Bard players had even touched the ball.

It was 14-0 at halftime and after Tzepos had scored twice again, winger Nigel Trenh sprinted in for 2 tries as if to add insult to injury.

Team: 1 Samia Jaman 2 Maraino Decarvalho 3 Owen McManus 9 Phil Knowlton 10 Mark Gislason 12 Dimitrios Tzepos 14 Nigel Trenh.
Game 4: Vassar College A 47 v 7 SUNY-Oneonta
Tries: Matheo Dwyer (1), TJ Usher (2), Eli Schair-Rigoletti (2), Olly Skeet-Browning (2).
Cons: Olly Skeet-Browning (6).

The Vassar players were brimming with confidence after the earlier results and they wasted no time in dispatching SUNY-Oneonta. This was a match that saw all the back division score and all showed some flashes of brilliance. Eli Schair-Rigoletti was masterful manipulating space on the outside to round his opposite number in classic wing style. TJ Usher and Olly Skeet-Browning have the ability to put defenders on their heels and they proceeded to do so at pace. The result was never in question and while there are still areas for improvement it was refreshing to see such a cutting edge from the runners.

Team: 1 Benson Cao 2 Kaiden Tocher 3 Kiran Mullen 9 Matheo Dwyer 10 Olly Skeet-Browning 12 TJ Usher 14 Eli Schair-Rigoletti.
Fifteens Match
Vassar College Men 59 v 5 Bard & Oneonta Combined XV
Tries: Kiran Mullen (1), TJ Usher (2), Olly Skeet-Browning (1), Dimitrios Tzepos (1), Owen McManus (1), Kaiden Tocher (3).
Cons: Olly Skeet-Browning (7).

Following the Sevens games the Bard and SUNY-Oneonta players combined to play as a team for a fifteens game against Vassar. Although the Brewers have not been practicing 15s it was clear that the lessons of the fall were still paying dividends. Clarity of purpose and action put the hosts and their additions on the back foot. The Vassar forwards won clean ball for the most part and it was shifted to the back division when there were clear opportunities.

It was good to see lads who had not played a lot in the fall have an opportunity to show what they could do. Mariano Decarvalho showed a lot of composure in contact situations, placing the ball well and Owen McManus was busy and got to the breakdowns quickly.

Vassar ran in 9 tries and Olly Skeet-Browning kicked 7 conversions in what was a decidedly one sided affair. The Brewers lost Justin Lederer when he looked to have hyper-extended his knee and then Eli Schair-Rigoletti, wary of a knock to his nose, was taken off. But these disruptions did little to phase the Brewers as they piled on the points.

Team: 15 Kiran Mullen 14 Phil Knowlton 13 Eli Schair-Rigoletti 12 TJ Usher 11 Nigel Trenh 10 Olly Skeet-Browning 9 Matheo Dwyer 1 Benson Cao 2 Mariano Decarvalho 3 Justin Lederer 4 Will Smith 5 Dimitrios Tzepos 6 Samia Jaman 7 Owen McManus 8 Kaiden Tocher.

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