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Monday, May 9, 2016

South Panthers Power Past Bermuda

South Panthers earlier in the year.
By Renaldo Arroyo (South Panthers Press Release)

Yesterday in Atlanta the USA Rugby South Panthers faced off against Bermuda in a World Cup Qualifier warmup match hosted by Atlanta Old White. Bermuda is trying to kickstart their campaign with a younger team and a new, more expansive style of play. The Panthers put forth one of their strongest teams in recent memory, with plenty of quality players providing for a skilled first 15 and a deep and strong bench.

For the South, a core group of players was surrounded by new talent. The back 3 for the Panthers looked to play a wide and fast game to pressure the more experienced Bermuda squad but pre-game injury to starting winger Drew Moyes (Atlanta Old White) put that in jeopardy. The injury however, opened the door for a standout performance from Jamie Gasparella (Atlanta Old White). Gasparella used his speed to make an immediate impact on the field forcing Bermuda to play defense sideline to sideline. Zach Miller (North Atlanta Rugby Club) was extremely vocal and decisive at fullback. Noticing space out wide, he led the back 3 using speed and skill to the first two tries of the game. 

Take the jump to read more.
Nathan Ring (Nashville) and Miller dotted down in the first 15 minutes of the game with conversions by longtime Panther flyhalf Lucas Baistrocchi (Boston RFC) as the Panthers took an early 12-0 lead. The match evened out after that due to a high penalty count from both sides. Due to the slow down in pace, both teams looked to execute their set piece maneuvers. Both sides excelled in the lineouts and scrums, and this proved to be successful for Bermuda as a driving maul off a lineout led to their first score of the match (conversion unsuccessful). Right before halftime, the Panthers' dangerous back 3 struck again, this time with Gasparella finishing off a beautiful run followed by another Baistrocchi conversion. At halftime, USA South 19- Bermuda 5.

The second half belonged to the South as continual defensive pressure from lock and captain Calvin Storey (Raleigh), inside center and vice captain Ronn Omondi (Atlanta Old White), hooker Thomas Van Petten (Life), and openside flanker Todd Sherer (Columbia) led to turnovers and territorial advantage. A quick try from outside center Mikey Sanders (Macon) and a try from lock Waymon Cassell (Nashville) that was disallowed due to referee interference showed that the Panthers looked to dominate the second half. Calling his own number, Baistrocchi dotted down in the 53rd minute and converted his own try after a wonderful set of phases. 

The South had control of the match and the bench for the Panthers did not allow for any shift of momentum in the game, with strong runs from prop Alex Nazon (Charleston) and outside center Gerry Roettger (Charleston) consistently testing the Bermuda try line. Some sloppy play from the Panthers and strong goal line defense from Bermuda led to a couple of missed opportunities to add to the scoring. The game proved extremely physical, with both sides suffering injuries and needing to use all reserves. Due to an injury to Ring, and with Moyes already out, backup hooker Ben Paul (Columbus/Fort Benning) substituted at winger. Paul proved his skill at multiple positions by converting a counter attacking opportunity and sucking in two defenders to free up Van Petten on a perfectly execute switch to score the final try of the match. After 80 minutes, USA South 38- Bermuda 5.

The man of the match was fullback Zach Miller for his leadership in attack and strength in defense.

The Panthers next matchup will be against the Cayman Islands in Parkland, Florida as the finale to the Surfing 7s tournament (https://www.facebook.com/events/569287816572133/) on Saturday June 4th at 5 pm. Bermuda now heads to Mexico City to play Mexico in a Rugby World Cup 2019 Qualifier on May 21st.

USA South Panthers

Minute Try Conversion

11 Ring

13 Miller Baistrocchi

40 Gasparella Baistrocchi

41 Sanders

53 Baistrocchi Baistrocchi

80 Van Petten Baistrocchi


Bermuda

27 Try


USA South Coaching Staff

Rene Daniel Head Coach USARS
Francesco Balsas Forwards Coach USARS
Dr. Renaldo Arroyo Forwards Coach Valdosta State University
Ronn Omondi Backs Coach
Craig Weyer Medical
Was Darwin Video
Gary Kent Manager
Kevin Kitto President

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