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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

South Panthers Win RAN Opener

USA South Release

The USA Rugby South Panthers began the 2018 Rugby Americas North title defense against Bermuda last Saturday. The game was played on a perfect day at the National Stadium north field in Hamilton, Bermuda. The crowd was heavily in favor of the home side, showcasing the island's great passion for the sport of rugby. USA Rugby South brought a heavily experienced side along with a few new players making their international debuts, while Bermuda had 6 new players in the squad.

The game began with high tempo and intensity, with the Panthers crashing over the try line in the 3rd minute after a sniping try from 5 meters out from scrumhalf Zach Miller (SoPi Rugby). Bermuda evened the score 4 minutes later after their scrumhalf Thomas Healy had his own sniping run off a scrum from 22 meters out. USA Rugby South then began to take control of the game. Bermuda had trouble holding onto the ball, and USA South continued to capitalize on mistakes and continually add pressure. The Panthers scored 4 more times in the first half in what was a dominant performance. Bermuda was not going down without a fight as Thomas Healy and Lucas Baistrocchi (Atlanta Old White), the Panther flyhalf, were given matching yellow cards for on-field indiscretions. At halftime the Panthers led 31-7.

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The halftime show featured local youth U10 and U13 games.

The second half saw USA Rugby South making substitutions early in the half due to injuries to some starters as well as tactical changes due to the Panthers receiving another yellow card, this one to fullback Mike Martinez (Nashville) for repeated infringements. This, as well as some great tactical decisions by Bermuda at half, allowed Bermuda to penetrate a staunch Panther defense for 3 second half tries, the last coming in injury time after yet another Panther yellow card. USA Rugby South's lack of second half discipline meant that they played 20 of the 40 minutes down a man. The closest score in the second half was 38-21.

The Panthers did collect two second half tries and a penalty kick to lead to a dominant 48-28 win. Panther Captain Hein Erasmus (Miami Tridents) was very pleased with his team's effort and felt that it was a fitting start to their season. The Panthers next travel to Trinidad and Tobago for a RAN match on June 16th, followed by a home match in Atlanta against the Cayman Islands in July.

USA Rugby South Panthers

Tries- Zach Miller (2) Southern Pines, Shawn Riley (Southern Pines), Jordan Gunderson (Denver Barbarians), Luke Scholtman (Life U), Jarrett Gartin (Atlanta Old White), David Williams (Chattanooga)

Conversions- Baistrocchi 5 of 7
Penalty Kicks- Baistrocchi 1 of 1

Bermuda

Tries- Healy
Conversions Brian Archibald 4 of 4

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