Tigers struggle to finish off Cyclones, win close (23-22) on the road
Mizzou Rugby traveled north to Ames, Iowa to take on Iowa State in their last game of the fall season. The Tigers had been talking about the importance of this game for weeks as it was their final game of the fall season and an important Heart of America Conference matchup. The offense started off slow, but got the Tigers deep into Cyclone territory 15 minutes into the matchup. After a 5-meter scrum and multiple failed attempts to break through the defensive line, Senior Prop and Captain Connor Fairfax rumbled through 4 defenders from 15 meters out, and dragged them into the try zone for the score. After the conversion was missed, the Tigers led 5-0 early. The Cylcones answered quickly as an Iowa State maul set up off of a lineout brought them near the goal line. The Cyclones forwards picked off the back of the ruck repeatedly with no budge from the Tigers defense. Finally, after eight or nine phases, Iowa State was able to squeak through the defense for the score. The ensuing completed conversion gave Iowa State the 7-5 lead.
After a few changes of possession, the Mizzou back line set up the team near the Iowa State goal line with a long break and good rucking. The forwards picked off of the ruck quickly a few times before flyhalf Gareth Jones received the ball to the right of the ruck at full speed and busted through the defense for the try. He missed the tough conversion that followed to give the Mizzou a 10-7 lead. The Cyclones quickly got the ball back into the Tigers’ half of the field, and when Mizzou was penalized for a rucking infraction, they set up a penalty kick which was converted to tie the score at 10. At the very end of the first half, Mizzou set up a 5 meter scrum on the left sideline, and swung the ball through each back’s hands before wing Kellen Shockley beat the defense on the edge and touched it down. The Tigers led 15-10 at halftime.
The Tigers seemed to dominate the first part of the second half, keeping the ball in their possession and spending a lot of time in Iowa State’s half. 10 meters out from the try line, James Glavin picked the ball out of a ruck and, realizing there were no defenders towards the sideline, took the ball to the weak side and dragged a defender with him into the try zone for the score. After another tough placed conversion that was missed, Mizzou seemed to be pulling away 20-10.
The Tigers seemed to get lazy, or maybe became complacent with their lead, because in the next 6 minutes, Iowa State scored two tries, running easily through the Tigers’ back-line for scores. After converting one of the two scores, the Cyclones led 22-20. Mizzou seemed to refocus, realizing their season was on the line. They kept the ball in hand and ran hard, yet conservatively down the field and got into Iowa State’s half with good runs and secure rucking. In the middle of the field, Iowa State committed a penalty, setting up Gareth Jones for a penalty kick from about 25-30 meters out. Jones shook off the tough missed conversions and nailed the penalty easily. The Tigers received the ball on the kickoff knowing they had to maintain possession to win. With under a minute left, Iowa State stole the ball off a pass on the wing and took off down the sideline. The Cyclone player kicked a grubber and attempted to beat the defense with his speed. Mizzou wing Shockley got to the ball first and kicked it out of bounds ending the game. The Tigers celebrated the win, but knew that they didn’t play their best rugby that day.
Mizzou finishes the fall season undefeated in the Heart of America Conference and looks to be a better team in the spring. The spring season begins February 27th against Oklahoma State at home.