Michigan Takes Season Opener, 32-19 Over Tri-City

posted Sep 12, 2011, 8:28 AM by Karl Seibert   [ updated Aug 5, 2015, 8:47 AM by Auston Lopez ]
27 August 2011         

The Tri-City Barbarians didn't have too far to travel Saturday as they met Michigan at Ann Arbor's  Rugby Stadium.  As they arrived, their warmup seemed to lack luster and direction; however, the "motley" nature of the red and blacks has become a sort of hallmark - and a successful one.  They've bested Michigan on the last two occasions, beating them last season 18-10 in Midland and in 2009 in Ann Arbor after captain-for-the-day Aaron "Tex" Dodd made the famous "Now let's not run up the score too bad" remarks.  Michigan would have the last (non-ironic) laugh this time around, t
aking the big boys 32-19.

Tri-City kicked off to start and managed to keep pressure on the maize and blue, not letting them out of their own half for several minutes.  Flyhalf Dodd employed what would be a nearly flawless kicking-for-territory game and nestled Michigan into threatening land.  On the seven minute mark, Try-City botched a line out throw on their own 5 meter line, tossing the pill straight into debut No. 8 Kyle Harris' hands.  He couldn't have asked for an easier first-try; his feet didn't move as he fell straight over the line.  While Dodd's on field kicking looked sharp, his kicking for goal was shaky at best, perhaps owing to the infancy of the season.  He would miss 3 out of 5 conversions.

Michigan did well to play some very classy running rugby, but coughed up ball on too many occasions to 'run up the score'.  After wave after wave of attack, Michigan scored from an unlikely reversal of positions - Dodd passed to halfback Karl Seibert off the base of a (rare) well-constructed ruck, giving the side's captain just enough space to trot over the line.  Dodd would miss the conversion, bringing the score to 10-nil just 11 minutes into the game.  Man-of-the-Match and debutant Charles Berklich would be the next to score in the 29th minute, using his overly dramatic, yet effective, sidestep to one-two shuffle his way in.  Beating the defense so definitively, scoring under the posts was no problem, which gave Dodd his first conversion of the match 29 minutes in.  Michigan would head to the shed leading 17-0.

Upon receiving the kickoff, Try-City seems to catch its stride a bit; whatever halftime wisdom captain Bill "BigBallaBill" Becker grunted paid off almost immediately.  Using their sheer bulk, Try-City "mashed" through Michigan's fringe defense, giving winger "Corbin" a generous gap through which he made a most hasty entry to score.  Ten minutes later, the same "mash" play worked, this time giving out-center "No Name" a ticket to "Try City".  A more "ask not what your team can do for you  . . ." player than Tex, Try-City's goal kicker was 2 for 2 thus far, bringing the score to 17-14 with a half hour left to play.

Referee Robin Petersen, no favorite from either team so far in the match due to some novel and questionable interpretations of certain laws, awarded Michigan a kickable penalty 56 minutes in, which Dodd, for once, considered making, and did.  20-14 seemed to give the boys some breathing room, while Try-City just seemed to breathe a lot.  Completing the trifecta of new players scoring, outstanding fullback Davy Hamilton dove over the line at 70 minutes, which pushed the scoreline just out of reach for the chubs, 27-14.  Rally they needed to do, and rally they did, with a strong drive down field following the restart; scoring an uncharacteristically skinny try, Try-City's 120 lb scrumhalf worked some magic, besting the fringe defense and nabbing a fiver at 73 minutes.

The last word on the day would come from "point a minute" Sam Upton, who, as an impact player and dentist-in-training, scored in the dying moments of a sunny, hot, exhausting match.  Dodd would miss the conversion.

Michigan next plays Detroit Tradesmen DIII on September 10th, in Detroit.  Check www.michiganrugby.org for details.

Starting XV:

1 Doug Chapman
2 Ted Pixley
3 Brian Zimmer
4 Matt Forsyth
5 Matt Frech
6 Doug Chenoweth
7 Josh Knight
8 Kyle Harris
9 Karl Seibert
10 Aaron Dodd
11 Andy Schwarzkof
12 Ryan Rogel
13 Charles Berklich
14 Pete Mulhearn
15 Davy Hamilton

16 Mike Dahlgren (Forsyth, 60)
17 Dan Cameron (Frech, 70)
19 Naveen Aravapalli (Chapman, 51)
20 Tom Stulberg (Mulheran, 67)
21 Gerrit Yntema (Knight, 47)
22 Sam Upton (Schwarzkopf, 62)

Tries: Harris, Seibert, Berklich, Hamilton, Upton
Conv: Dodd (2)
Pen: Dodd