Charles River Men vs. Providence (NERFU semifinals) Match Report
For the first time all season, the Rats got nice weather as they took a muddy Marvel Field to face undefeated #1 seed Providence RFC in the NERFU Division 3 playoffs.
Charles River kicked off and immediately put the pressure on Providence, forcing a penalty at 2 minutes which fullback Colman Mulkerrin kicked for points.
River continued to apply pressure, playing at a high pace and putting Providence on the back foot for the first 15 minutes. But the hosts regained their composure, scoring two tries quickly, and converting the second to go ahead 12-3 after 20 minutes. Their large back row combined with hard running backs demanded that Charles River tackle with aggression and precision, with Providence capitalizing on any missed tackles at the gain-line with long runs.
Charles River struck back in the 33rd minute, counter-attacking off a Providence knock that was gathered by lock Pat Meade and run back close to Providence’s 22. Meade offloaded to Devin Doherty playing at outside center, and Devin took a hard cut and an oblique line to the far corner, using his speed to outpace all the Providence defenders except for the 14, who high tackled Devin from behind just short of the line. A penalty try and yellow card were awarded, making it 12-10.
Not satisfied to leave it at that, Charles River scored again at the close of the half. Flanker Joe Henry started it off, connecting with fullback Colman Mulkerrin, who continued to gain ground, finally dishing to Jake Cox on the wing. Jake cut back in on the first Providence back row to try him, taking him out of the play and getting within meters of a try before being tackled and presenting the ball cleanly for Joe, still in support, to pick it up and touch it down for a try. The half ended with Charles River in the lead, 12-15.
Providence came back with a try early in the second half, converting to go 19-15. But Charles River continued to fight. Wing Jerry Kenneally got the ball outside, with Colman as the last man. Colman ran a line which held the last defender out wide, opening up a gap which Jerry capitalized on, breaking the line and evading the remaining defense to score. Colman converted, putting Charles River up 19-22 with 20 minutes to go.
But Providence were not done scoring. They found a breakaway, nearly scoring but being brought into touch 5 meters out. On the ensuing lineout, Providence recovered an overthrown ball and crossed the line quickly, taking the lead 24-22 with only seconds to be played.
The Rats fought on, sprinting to the line to kick off, and immediately generating a penalty at the break down. They kicked for touch, recovered their lineout, and drew another penalty from the Providence side. Colman lined up the kick and put it through as the referee signalled full time. Charles River had won the match at the final moment, 24-25.
Openside flanker John Gill took home man of the match honors for his aggressive tackling and many agile line breaks, often ending in an offload to a midfielder who continued the work.