Category: Match Report

Bootleggers Drop Heartbreaker to Cape Fear; 2nds Win in a Rout

CLAYTON, NC – On a gorgeous Carolina Winter afternoon, fans were treated to not one, but two great matches at East Clayton Community Park. All four teams, in play, made the most of the excellent conditions and produced two exhilarating matches. The opener was a heated battle between the 1st and 2nd place teams in the Carolinas D3 Eastern Division. The match was immediately followed by a high scoring affair between the Bootlegger’s 2nds and a combined New Bern/Wake Tech side. The picturesque rugby day was accented with the aroma of food cooking from the back of the end zone and online streaming of the match from a local broadcaster.

From the opening kickoff, it was apparent that Clayton and Cape Fear were going to put forth a cracking match. The two sides traded possession early on as the teams were feeling each other out. Despite having the run of play in previous matches against the Bootleggers, it was obvious that the tune had changed for Cape Fear. Both sides settled in early on into playing field position with the Bootleggers pinning Cape Fear into their half during the early parts of the match. The field position battle produced the first score of the match as Clayton attacked from inside the Cape Fear 40. Bootlegger’s flyhalf Brian Beauregard found a gap in the Fear defense and offloaded to scrumhalf Brian Anderson who appeared on his way in for a try. Cape Fear were able to wrangle Anderson just before he scored, but he was able to offload to lock Ted Hardy who dove over for the first score of the match. Ed Dixon provided the conversion for an early 7-0 lead for the Bootleggers.

Clayton continued to pressure inside of the Cape Fear half, but some strong work at the breakdown by Fear produced a penalty. A nice touch finder gave Fear a line out inside of the Clayton 40 and their first trip into the home side’s half.  Cape Fear found some space to run off of the line out and their inside center carried deep into Bootleggers’ territory. Three phases later, Cape Fear  went weak side and was awarded a penalty try after a high tackle in the corner on the Fear wing. The conversion knotted the match at 7-7 with twelve minutes gone from the clock.

The two sides then locked into a defensive battle filled with hard hits and smart positional play. Clayton maintained the bulk of possession, but found themselves in penalty trouble that thwarted a few promising attacks. With the half drawing close, Clayton pushed their way into Fear’s half aiming to break the tie. From a penalty, Bootleggers’ Captain Simon Potter took a quick tap and weaved his way through Cape Fear’s defense. He found Anderson in support and the scrumhalf was over for the second score of the match. Dixon’s conversion gave the Bootleggers a 14-7 as the half drew to a close.

The second half continued much like the first half as the two sides refused to give ground. Both squads put together promising attacks early in the second half only to be denied by stout defensive efforts. Penalty trouble put Clayton on the back foot again as Cape Fear used a penalty to move the ball into the Bootleggers’ half. From a line out on the Clayton 40, Cape Fear spun the ball wide and moved the ball into the red zone. Cape Fear put together a series of phases that ultimately led to a try from a crashing forward. The conversion deadlocked the match at 14-14 as the sides headed into the final quarter of the match.

Clayton aimed to wear down Cape Fear with a strong rolling maul and ate up large chunks of territory. This gave the Bootleggers a couple promising shots at the Cape Fear goal line, but were undone by more penalties. The battled continued back and forth as the intensity increased. In the 70th minute Cape Fear broke the tie after a quick tap off of a Clayton penalty around mid field. After drawing in Clayton defenders, Cape Fear went wide and threatened to score. A Cape Fear player went over the line and appeared to initially have been held up, but a second effort grounded the ball for the tie breaking score. The conversion gave Cape Fear a 21-14 lead with less than ten minutes to play.

With the clock ticking, the Bootleggers drove the ball deep into Cape Fear’s half. The home side strung together a nice set of phases, but were undone again by penalties. Two Cape Fear players were yellow carded in the waning moments of the match which gave the Bootleggers a glimmer of hope. With the ball deep in their own half, Clayton attempted a final push. With some room to run, the Bootleggers went wide, but the scrambling Cape Fear defense was up to the task. A forward pass ended the match and any hope of late heroics from the home side.

“It was a disappointing end to the match, but I’m so proud of these guys,” said Clayton head coach Rich Munro. “Cape Fear is a strong side and we’re not far off. We hate to lose this one, because it was there for the taking, but there is a lot of great things to take away from this.”

Following the exciting opener, the Clayton 2nds took the pitch against a combined New Bern/Wake Tech side. The men were determined to bring home at least one victory for the home side on the day. The two sides locked into a seesaw battle in a first half that produced some great scores. The Bootleggers got off to a quick start with an early try from wing Sharif Nash. The conversion from flyhalf Jesse Rinehart staked the Bootleggers to a 7-0 lead. Minutes later, hooker Jon Sanyer crashed over for a try to extend the lead to 12-0. New Bern bounded back with three consecutive tries to take a 15-12 lead.

The Bootleggers’ regained the lead with a try from Rinehart, but New Bern quickly regained the lead with another try to place the score at 20-17 in favor of the visitors with about 20 minutes played in the first half. A try and conversion from Zane West gave the Bootleggers a 24-20 lead only to see New Bern return fire with another try to take a 25-24 lead. Minutes later Bootleggers’ lock Les Shelton scored his first try. West added the conversion as Clayton took a 31-25 lead into halftime.

The back and forth flow of the first half turned into mostly one way traffic in the second half as Clayton began to find a flow to their play. The Bootleggers’ forwards produced a strong effort which gave the backs plenty of room to run. West added his second try of the match, Nash added his second, Deven Howard scored two second half tries, and Anthony Crumity also crossed over for the home side in the second half. New Bern managed only two second half tries as the Bootleggers pulled away for a 64-35 win to close out the day on a high note.

“The first half was a little shaky,” added Munro. “They settled down in the second half and played some nice rugby. Some of the best rugby we’ve seen from our 2nds yet. It was a great day for our club from top to bottom.”

The Bootleggers return to action on March 10th at home against the Charlotte Barbarians. Despite the loss, the Bootleggers’ 1st XV remained in second place, but now face a must win match up at Hilton Head on March 17th followed by another must win at home against Camp Lejeune on March 24th. Clayton defeated both teams in the Fall, but face stiff tests in against them to reach the playoffs for the first time in club history.

Clayton Battles to Win over Fort Bragg

FORT BRAGG, NC – The Clayton Bootleggers 1st XV returned to Carolinas D3 play this past Sunday as they took on rivals Fort Bragg on base at Towle Stadium. Every match against Fort Bragg is a hard hitting affair and the host side didn’t disappoint. Fort Bragg’s defensive pressure effectively disrupted the Clayton attack and kept the Bootleggers from ever settling into the match. The pace and intensity of the match also produced a penalty laden affair that saw three players sent to the bin, two of which were Clayton players.

The match started off in fine fashion as the Bootleggers, clad in their new alternate kits, took the opening kickoff and charged down the pitch. Within a couple of phases, flyhalf Brian Beauregard caught the Bragg defense flat and chipped over the top for fullback Cam Grim to recover and score. Grim added a second try about ten minutes later and the squad appeared to be off and running. The conversions from Beauregard staked Clayton to an early 14-0 lead.

Fort Bragg answered back in the 20th minute with the first of three tries from their scrumhalf. The Bootleggers recovered the ensuing kickoff and a Fort Bragg penalty led to a lineout in the corner for Clayton. A perfectly executed maul, off of the lineout, from the Bootleggers led to a try from team Captain Simon Potter.

Just before halftime, the Bootleggers extended their lead to 24-7 when Connell Smallwood bashed his way through the Bragg defensive line to score under the posts. Despite some of the scrappy play in the first half, the Bootleggers took a comfortable lead into the break.

Clayton added onto that lead in the 50th minute when Gareth Davies struck from 20 meters out after a nice run of play from the Bootleggers. The conversion from Ed Dixon gave the visitors a commanding 31-7 lead as they appeared poised to run away with the match.

A yellow card to Potter opened the door for Bragg and they answered with two quick tries to cut the Clayton lead to 31-17. A 60th minute try from Clayton hooker Eric Hile and conversion from Dixon extended the Bootleggers’ lead to 38-17. Beauregard added a score in the corner a few minutes later that pushed the lead to 43-17 with about ten minutes to play.

Hile was sent off with the second yellow of the match for Clayton and Fort Bragg staged one last comeback. The hosts scored 17 points in the final ten minutes to leave the final score at 43-34 in favor of the Bootleggers.

“It wasn’t the prettiest, but it was a win,” said Clayton head coach Rich Munro. “A lot of credit to Fort Bragg for keeping up the pressure. We never got into a groove and we were in penalty trouble the entire match.”

The win ups the Bootleggers’ record in conference play to 4-1 this season and keeps them in 2nd place in their division right behind Cape Fear. Clayton hosts Fear this coming Saturday in a pivotal Carolinas Eastern Division matchup.

“We need to do much better next week if we want to challenge Cape Fear,” added Munro. “We’ll go back to work and aim to fix some of our mistakes from this weekend.”

Following the match, the Clayton 2nd XV took the pitch against Fort Bragg B. The Bootleggers jumped out to an early lead when newcomer Sharif Nash scored on his first touch of the ball in a live match. A few minutes later, Nash scored his second try of the match. The Bootleggers kept up the pressure as Eric Tansey added another score under the posts. Conversions from Ted Chapman staked the Bootleggers to a 19-0 lead late in the first half. Bragg picked up a score just before halftime to cut the lead to 19-7.

Just as the Bootleggers came out firing in the first half, Bragg came out storming in the second half. Bragg scored three tries over the span of ten minutes to take a 24-19 lead over the Bootleggers 2nds.

Clayton then regained the lead when Nash completed his hat trick as he weaved through the home side to score under the posts. Nick Taylor added the conversion and the Bootleggers held a narrow 26-24 lead with just minutes to play. Unfortunately, Fort Bragg had one last charge in them and they scored with no time left on the clock. The conversion gave Bragg’s Bs a 31-26 victory in an entertaining match.

The Bootleggers return to play this coming weekend. The club’s 1st XV takes on Cape Fear in an important Carolinas D3 Eastern Division matchup. The 2nd XV finishes off the day against New Bern.

Bootleggers Battle Past Camp Lejeune

CAMP LEJEUNE, NC – On a sunny Fall afternoon on base at Camp Lejeune, the Clayton Bootleggers battled to a hard fought victory over the Camp Lejeune Misfits. The win capped off a strong Fall season for the Bootleggers as they finish with wins in four of their final five matches. The home side didn’t make it easy on the visitors as Lejeune came out and played physical rugby for the entire 80 minutes. Despite holding the lead for the entire match, the Bootleggers were never able to put the match away as the Misfits kept the pressure on.

The match opened with the Misfits stringing together a series of phases that pushed into the Clayton half. After standing strong, the Bootleggers took possession and quickly found some space to run outside. In the 5th minute, the Clayton backs moved the ball wide and found wing Connell Smallwood with room. Smallwood did the rest of the work, scoring from 30 meters out to open up the match account. Ed Dixon added the conversion to continue his strong work off the tee this season and the Bootleggers led 7-0.

Clayton was right back at it from the ensuing kickoff as they found gaps in the Lejeune defense to push the ball deep into home territory. This time, it was flyhalf Nick Russell who found a seam in the defense and raced in for a 9th minute try. The following conversion from Dixon gave the Bootleggers a 14-0 advantage with just over ten minutes played. The Bootleggers aimed to score again quickly as they pushed the ball deep into Lejeune’s territory off of the kickoff. The Bootleggers knocked on a certain try after a nice weak side attack from a strong scrum deep in Lejeune’s half.

Just when it appeared as if the Bootleggers were going to take control of the match, the Misfits buckled down on defense. They increased their pressure which led to a series of mistakes from the visiting Clayton side. In the 17th minute, the Misfits got on the board with a try from their hooker on a nice broken field run to cut the score to 14-5. Feeling the momentum swinging, Lejeune dominated possession over the next 15 minutes and put the Bootlegger defense under constant pressure. Clayton’s defense held strong, but it took a toll as they continued to turn over good possession.

Lejeune cut into the score further in the 33rd minute with a try after a series of phases on the Clayton goal line. The conversion went wide and left the score at 14-10 with just minutes remaining in the first half. Clayton stemmed the tide by forcing a turnover and linking together some nice phases. Team Captain Simon Potter broke the Lejeune line, fended off the fullback and raced in from 40 meters to give the Bootleggers an important score just before halftime. Dixon added the conversion as the Bootleggers increased their lead to 21-10 going into the break.

The two sides opened up the second half hitting just as hard as in the opening forty. They traded possession and hits as neither side looked to give away any ground. The Bootleggers opted to their bench in the 50th minute to bring on fresh legs and it paid off. Some nice work at the breakdown led to a nice offload from Potter to Dixon as he finished it off from 10 meters out to extend the Clayton lead. Dixon added his own conversion and the Bootleggers led 28-10 in the 55th minute.

With less than 20 minutes to play, Lejeune aimed to get back into the match and once again the momentum shifted. After turning away two attacks deep in their own territory, Lejeune finally broke through the Bootlegger defense with a 67th minute try to cut the lead to 28-15. Just as quickly as Lejeune got back into the match, Clayton answered back. On the following kickoff, a nice play from Eric Hile led to a turnover. Bootlegger No. 8 then bashed through the Misfit’s defense to score a try. Another conversion from Dixon, who was a perfect 5 from 5, extended the lead to 35-15 with less than ten minutes to play.

Camp Lejeune continued to pressure the Bootlegger defense and found the end zone one last time in the 75th minute. The conversion left the score at 35-22 which held through until the final whistle.

“It was a battle out there,” said Bootlegger’s Head Coach Rich Munro. “Lejune came out and played hard, but we gave away too much possession today. We’re happy with the win, but there is a lot of room for improvement. We’ll get a little time off for the holidays to heal up some bumps and then we’ll get back at it.”

The win caps a solid Fall season for both the Bootleggers 1st XV and the 2nd XV. The 1st XV sits in solid position going into the second half of their season and is right in the mix for a Carolinas D3 playoff spot. The Clayton 2nd XV finished the Fall with a 3-1 record after winning only one match in the previous two years.

“It’s been a good Fall,” added Munro. “The guys have worked hard and made a lot of improvements. We put in an entirely new system this Fall and the guys bought into it. We’ve added some good talent, built some depth in the squad, and have guys pushing for positions. We’re in a good place, but now isn’t the time to rest.”

The Bootleggers now take a short break for the holidays before returning to training after the New Year. The Clayton RFC currently fields two teams and the club is always looking for new players. New players are welcome to join at any point during the season. Interested players should contact the club at for more information.

Clayton Bootleggers 35 Camp Lejeune 22

Tries: Smallwood, Russell, Potter, Dixon, Davies

Conv: Dixon 5/5