Monday, October 3, 2016

Rugby East Drop: Bonaventure’s Positive Loss

by Ryan J. Trost
This is American Rugby – Rugby East

Many of the weekend’s results were as expected in Rugby East. Wheeling-Jesuit, Kutztown, Army and Penn State all cruised in large margin victories. There are some interesting undertones to pick up on in such games, none the less. Blow outs, though they have their own challenges, are no different than any other game in as much as both teams still learn something about themselves.

For the winning team, those lessons are more about focus and putting nails in the coffin. If you make a habit out of letting teams off the hook, eventually, someone is going to stage a comeback.

A full scale comeback isn’t what happened to Penn State this weekend, but the 24 points they gave up in the final 20 minutes of Friday night’s contest does pique some curiosity. The Nittany Lions have only given up a total of five points in their other three games combined.

Take the jump to read more.

Overall, PSU head coach, Blake Burdette is proud of the way his team played throughout the weekend. There is no doubt they are contenders this year. When asked about that final period of play on Friday night, he simply conceded, “(St. Bonaventure) never gave up and we didn’t finish the game the way we should have. They ran their pattern all night and stuck to it at the end.”

That kind of fortitude and belief in the system is something Tui Osborne has been working on throughout the year at St. Bonaventure. In numerous interviews he has reiterated the point. When staying true to the pattern good things happen.

That goes for the attack and the defensive system as well. Making the right nominations through multiple phases and changes of possession has been a constant theme. This week, against the 4th ranked team in the nation, Osborne submitted, “It clicked in those last 20 minutes. I’m proud of our fight-back.”

Clearly we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves; Bona has a lot of work yet to do. A 69 – 12 loss is still a 45 point difference in the wrong direction. Osborne is the first to point that out. More one on one tackles need to be made, the set piece inside the ten needs to be better on a consistent basis, simple catch-pass issues continue to let them down… he has a list.

One of his more compelling observations this week is about the team’s acclimation to the pace that he and their top ranked foes demand. “We have guys who are fit, but they are so used to not being fit that they don’t realize the can pick it up.”

So, yes, St. Bonaventure is still behind the curve of the top teams in the competition, but things are looking up. This is their second Bonus Try performance on the year, which actually puts them ahead of Iona in the standings. With Iona on a bye this week, the SBU v West Virginia match becomes a must win opportunity for the Bonnies to put just a bit of distance between them and the Gaels.

If things continue in that vein, their Nov. 4th date in New Rochelle takes on a whole new attitude.

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