Category: Match Report

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


Clayton Picks Up Sweep at Home

CLAYTON, NC – It was a busy day of rugby action in Clayton this past Saturday as the Clayton Rugby Football Club hosted a triple-header of rugby games at East Clayton Community Park. For the Bootleggers, it was their final home match of 2017, so the squads aimed to finish off on a high note for fans.

For a curtain raiser, the club hosted East Carolina University against Coastal Carolina in a pivotal Southern Rugby Conference match up with National Playoff implications. Fans were treated to a battle as the two sides played a close and intense match. ECU took a narrow 10-7 lead into halftime, but two yellow cards in the second half gave Coastal the advantage needed to surge out to a 21-10 lead with less than 20 minutes to play in the match. ECU clawed their way back into the game with a forward oriented attack and closed the gap to 21-20 with less than five minutes to play. A try in the final few minutes gave ECU the victory. They now move on to play the winner of the Cardinal Conference with a trip to the USA Rugby D2 Nationals on the line.

Trying hard to top the opener, the Bootleggers 1st XV took the pitch against Hilton Head in a Carolinas Division III Conference match. The squad came into the match expecting a close battle and got exactly that as Hilton Head did their best to spoil the club’s final home match of the Fall. Hilton Head got off to a great start as they were on the board first with a converted try in the 5th minute. The Bootleggers bounced back with a try from lock Jeff Cosgrove in the 13th minute. The conversion from Ed Dixon knotted the score at 7-7.

From there, the Bootleggers started to take control of the first half with strong set piece work and ball retention. They were rewarded for their work with an 18th minute try from center Connell Smallwood who found a seam to score from short range. The conversion gave Clayton a 14-7 lead. Minutes later, No. 8 Gareth Davies was on the receiving end of a nicely worked try after some nifty support work and offloads opened up space to run through the visiting defense.

With the score at 19-7, the Bootleggers were once again on the front foot and threatening to score deep in the Hilton Head half. Just five meters out from the end zone, a Hilton Head player intercepted a pass and went the distance to turn the tide and cut the Bootlegger lead to 19-14 with 15 minutes to play in the first half. The Bootlegger’s set piece answered back. After a penalty put Hilton Head deep in their half again, Clayton scored off of a nice line out play from five meters out. Flanker Ted Hardy was the recipient of the try as the Bootleggers pushed their lead out to 24-14 with less than ten minutes to play in the half.

As was the theme for the match, Hilton Head answered back as they capitalized on another turnover to put points on the board just before halftime. The try cut the Bootlegger’s lead to 24-19 at the half.

The second half started off with a frantic pace as both squads set out to get on the board first. It was the Bootleggers that struck first in the second half with a penalty goal from Ed Dixon to extend their lead to 27-19. Hilton Head fired right back with a 46th minute try to cut the lead to 27-24. After kicking all of the Clayton points, Dixon added a try after Nick Taylor stole a line out ball from Hilton Head deep in the opponent’s half. The try from Dixon pushed the Bootlegger’s lead out to 32-24 with 15 minutes left to play in the match.

The final 15 minutes were a battle as Hilton Head swung the momentum in their favor with a pair of tries to take a 34-32 lead with ten minutes to play. Clayton regathered and went back to work pushing the ball into Hilton Head’s territory. The home side retook the lead with a penalty in front of the posts. Dixon knocked down the penalty goal in the 71st minute to give the Bootleggers a 35-34 edge. Another penalty goal from Dixon just two minutes later extended the lead to 38-34. With the match still hanging in the balance, the Bootleggers thwarted one more Hilton Head attack and worked the ball deep into their opponent’s half. With time expiring, Dixon fed a crashing Ted Hardy for his second of the day as he crashed over from five meters out. The conversion gave the Bootleggers an important 45-34 victory.

Dixon finished with Man of the Match honors after scoring 20 points on a try, three conversions, and three penalties.

“It was a battle,” said Clayton Head Coach Rich Munro. “Credit to Hilton Head for playing a hard fought match. We made things more difficult on ourselves than we should have, but the guys showed a ton of heart and dug deep to get the win. We showed that we can finish off a close match against a good opponent.”

With two matches down, the Bootleggers 2nd XV took the pitch against the new South Wake club that is forming with students from Wake Tech. The 2nds produced a strong effort against the new side and opened things up in the second half to run away with a big win.

The two sides locked into a tight battle for most of the first half as they traded possession. The Bootleggers were the first to strike when wing William Ashley scored the first of his three tries in the 10th minute. The lead didn’t grow until the 25th minute when Wesley Smith crossed over. The conversion from flyhalf Jesse Rinehart gave the 2nds a 12-0 lead. South Wake scored their first and only try of the match a few minutes later to cut the lead to 12-7. A try from Deven Howard, his first of four on the day, gave the Bootleggers a 17-7 lead. The score began to open the match up as the 2nds finished the 1st half on a high note with tries from Ashley and Jared Thomas to extend the lead to 29-7 going into the break.

The 2nds picked up where they left off in the second half as the side played solid, structured rugby that gave the back line plenty of good ball to work with. The backs used the platform to open with the scoreline. The Bootleggers got three more tries from Howard, three from Eric Hile, another from Ashley, one from Derek Braun, and Dylan Johnson scored his first career try in his first ever match.

“The weather was perfect for rugby,” added Munro. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day to play. I’m proud of the effort from both of our squads today. Our B-Side is pushing just as hard as our A-Side and that is making our entire team better.”

The resounding victory finished off a clean sweep for the home sides and served as a great final home stand. The Bootleggers have one final match this Fall against Camp Lejeune on November 18th before taking a break for the holidays.

Clayton 1st XV 45 Hilton Head 34

Tries: Hardy (2), Cosgrove, Davies, Smallwood, Dixon

Conv: Dixon 3/7

Pen: Dixon 3/4

Clayton 2nd XV 84 South Wake 7

Tries: Howard (4), Ashley (3), Hile (3), W. Smith, Thomas, Braun, Johnson

Conv: Rinehart 6/10, Braun 1/3, Hile 0/1

Men Open D3 Slate with Win Over Bragg

CLAYTON, NC – The Clayton Bootleggers opened up their 2017/2018 Carolinas D3 Conference campaign on a high note with a 52-17 victory over Fort Bragg at East Clayton Community Park on Saturday. Despite a shaky start to the match, the men eventually settled in and produced a nine try effort to surge past their visitors.  Nick Russell and Cam Grim each scored two tries to lead the offensive attack.

“It’s good to get a league win out of the way,” said Head Coach Rich Munro. “We’ve some big games ahead of us though. Time to get back to training and prepare for Cape Fear.”

After a shaky start to the match, the Bootleggers got on the board in the 6th minute with center Nick Russell’s first try of the day.  After the ensuing kickoff, Cam Grim added another score when flyhalf Brian Beauregard caught the Fort Bragg defense flat and chipped behind their lines. Grim ran down the kick, found a favorable bounce of the ball, and raced into the try zone. Beauregard added the conversion to stake the Bootleggers to a 12-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the match.

No. 8 Gareth Davies extended the lead to 17-0 after crashing over for a try in the 17th minute and the Bootleggers appeared on the verge of breaking the match open. Instead, Fort Bragg dug in and Clayton ran into penalty trouble with a series of infringements at the breakdown. In the 26th minute, the referee took corrective action and sent lock Nick Taylor to the sin bin to cap a stretch of play littered with Bootlegger penalties. Fort Bragg used the man advantage to narrow the score with a try in the 31st minute to cut the Bootlegger lead to 17-5. The Bootleggers regrouped and finished the half strong with Russell’s second try of the match and a penalty goal from Beauregard as they took a 27-5 lead into the break.

Clayton got the 2nd half off on the right foot with Grim’s second try of the afternoon to extend their lead to 32-5. Fort Bragg answered right back with a try in the 53rd minute to put the score at 32-10. Bootlegger Head Coach Rich Munro went to his bench aiming to bring fresh legs on for the final quarter of the match. The Bootleggers responded with three tries over a seven minute span as 2nd half replacement center Deven Howard scored his first Bootlegger try. He was followed across the try line by flanker and Team Captain Simon Potter, and lock Ted Hardy as Clayton pushed their lead out to 47-10.

Fort Bragg added one last try in the 68th minute before hooker Eric Tansey closed out the scoring for the Bootleggers with a 76th minute try.

Final Score: Clayton 52 Fort Bragg 17

“For the season opener, I was very pleased with the result,” said Potter. “You always want to start strong, and we managed to do that in this game. Our organization was pretty good, and when our backline got quality ball they showed what they could do with it, running in some excellent scores. That said, there’s definitely plenty for us to work on before our next game against Cape Fear.”

The Bootleggers’ 2nd XV followed with an entertaining match against Fort Bragg’s B-Side. Fort Bragg got off to a strong start pushing out to a 20-0 lead in the first half. After spending most of the 1st half playing defense, the Clayton 2nds regrouped and carried the lion’s share of possession in the second half. Deven Howard added another try and lock Scott Dougal also scored for the 2nds. Fort Bragg added one second half try and were able to hold off the Bootleggers’ 2nds by a final score of 25-10.

The Bootleggers return to action on Saturday October 21st as they travel east to take on conference favorites Cape Fear. The next home game for Clayton is Saturday November 4th when the club takes on Hilton Head.

1st XV Box Score

10/7/17 Clayton 52
Fort Bragg 17
Scoring Summary T: Russell (2), Grim (2), Davies, Howard, Potter, Hardy, Tansey
C: Beauregard 2/8, Dixon 0/1; P: Beauregard 1/1

2nd XV Box Score

10/7/17 Clayton 10
Fort Bragg 25
Scoring Summary T: Howard, Dougal
C: Rinehart 0/2