Category: News

1st XV Defeats Columbia, 2nds Fall to New Bern

CLAYTON, NC – On a gorgeous fall afternoon, the Clayton Rugby Football Club hosted their final home double header of 2018. Fans on hand at East Clayton Community Park were treated to not one, but two exciting games as both matches went down to the wire.

In the opener, the Bootleggers 1st team faced off against Columbia Olde Grey in a pivotal Carolinas D3 conference match that could have future playoff implications. From the outset it was apparent that the match was going to be a physical battle as both sides traded shots and penalties. A theme that would carry on throughout the match. The Bootleggers were first on the board. After a foray deep into Columbia territory, Clayton turned over possession to Olde Grey. Pinned deep in their territory, Olde Grey attempted to play their way out of the pressure. In the 5th minute, Bootleggers’ center Eric Hile intercepted a pass a strolled into the end zone for the opening score of the match. Ed Dixon added the conversion to give the Bootleggers an early 7-0 lead.

Ten minutes later Clayton found themselves again deep into Columbia territory. A Olde Grey penalty about 30 meters out in front of the posts led to a successful penalty goal from Dixon to extend the lead to 10-0. The two sides then locked into a back and forth defensive battle. The Bootleggers had multiple visits into the Columbia half, but were undone by penalties.

With less than ten minutes to play in the first half, Columbia struck back with back to back tries to tie the match at 10-10.

Just minutes into the second half, the Bootleggers made another trip deep into the Columbia half. They came away with the lead as lock Eric Davis pushed over to score a try from a meter out. The conversion from Dixon gave the home side a 17-10 lead. Ten minutes later it was Hile again crossing the white wash. This time it came at the end of a well worked phase of play from the Bootleggers that opened up space outside. The conversion drifted just wide as the Bootleggers extended their lead to 22-10 with 25 minutes to play in the match.

As was the case in the first half, Columbia came charging back. Clayton misplayed the ensuing kickoff and Olde Grey capitalized with a quick try in response. With the conversion, Columbia decreased the lead to 22-17. The Bootleggers responded back in the 66th minute when Trey Eason scored off of a nice running line. Another conversion from Dixon pushed the Bootleggers’ lead out to 29-17.

Again it was the restart that hurt the Bootleggers as the ensuing kickoff was collected by Columbia and ran in for a try. The conversion drifted wide, but Olde Grey closed the gap to just a try as the home side led 29-22 with ten minutes left in the match.

After some tense moments, Clayton sealed the match with another try from Eason with just minutes left in the match. Dixon added the conversion to give the Bootleggers a 36-22 victory.

“This was a big one for us,” added Bootleggers head coach Rich Munro. “It wasn’t a pretty win, but the guys played through it and got the win. That’s a match that we would have lost in the past. The guys put in a big effort.”

The victory upped the Bootleggers record to 5-2 this season and 2-1 in Carolinas D3 conference play. They have one more D3 match left this fall, at Camp Lejeune, before the holiday break.

“I’m proud of how the team played,” said club captain Gareth Davies. “We played a very physical Columbia team, but were able to pull it all together for the win. Our defense has improved a lot in the past couple of weeks and that was the biggest factor. It was a great team victory.”

“We need to go to Lejeune and take care of business,” said Munro. “We need to finish with a win and put ourselves in good position to make another run at the playoffs in the 2nd half of the season.”

The second match of the day was a wild and high scoring affair as the Clayton 2nd side took on New Bern in a Carolinas D4 conference match. The two sides combined to score 107 points with a staggering 20 tries scored in the back and forth affair. The Bootleggers’ D4 side were first on the board with a quick try from Alex Branoff, but New Bern answered right back with a converted try to take a 7-5 lead. A lead that New Bern would never relinquish despite the home side’s best efforts.

New Bern added four more first half tries as the Bootleggers got another try from Branoff and one apiece from Eric Tansey and Simon Potter. The difference were the conversions as the Bootleggers missed all of their conversions in the first half while New Bern converted four of their five tries as they took a 33-20 lead into halftime.

The seesaw match continued into the second half as the two sides traded tries throughout the second half. The closest the Bootleggers came was 50-48, but New Bern finished strong on their way to a 62-55 win. The Bootleggers got second half tries from George Earhart, Jon Sanyer, Paul Castellana, George Allen, and another from Potter. The highlight of the match was Allen celebrating his 51st birthday in style by scoring a try as the match was in the dying moments.

“We’re very proud of our D4 side,” said Munro. “Half of that side hadn’t even played rugby before this fall. Some of the guys couldn’t make it through ten minutes of game time when we started in August and now they’re putting in 80 minutes. This group is working their tails off to get better and we’re seeing it on the pitch. At the same time, we’re disappointed not to come away with a win. We need to keep working on our defensive effort.”

The Bootleggers’ D4 side has one more match this fall as they take on the Raleigh Redhawks in another D4 conference match.

Clayton Scoring

Clayton D3 36 Columbia 22

Tries: Eason (2), Hile (2), Davis

Conv: Dixon 4/5

Pen: Dixon 1/2

Clayton D4 55 New Bern 62

Tries: A. Branoff (2), Potter (2), Tansey, Sanyer, Earhart, Castellana, Allen

Conv: Sanyer 2/5, W. Smith 3/4

About the Clayton Rugby Football Club

Founded in 2013 and having played their first game in mid-2014, the club has grown quickly with an active membership of over 70 people. Developed with a family friendly and community driven club culture, the Clayton RFC offers both playing and social membership levels. The Clayton RFC currently fields three Men’s teams (D3, D4, and Old Boys). The club also provides rugby to local youth through outreach activities, camps, and a Spring and Fall youth program through their partnership with the Town of Wilson’s Mills.

Bootleggers Fall to Asheville, 2nds Salvage Day with Win

CLAYTON, NC – It was a day made for rugby. Overcast conditions, light rain, and mild fall temperatures set the mood for a big day of rugby at East Clayton Community Park. Unfortunately, it was a mixed bag of results on the pitch for the Clayton RFC. The Bootleggers D3 side were handed a heavy defeat by the defending Carolinas D3 Champions Asheville. The club’s 2nds managed to salvage the day with a thrilling victory, that went down to the final kick, over a Wake Tech/Campbell/Asheville Motley.

The opening game was a rematch of the CGRU D3 playoff semifinals from last season. The match was almost a mirror image as the Bootleggers hung with Asheville for the first half only to fall off the pace in the second half. The match started off promising as the two sides traded shots with forays into each other’s territory. From the outset, the tone was set as both sides came out hitting hard. The physicality and intensity of the match led to the Bootleggers having to go to the bench early as outside center Connell Smallwood was knocked out of the match with a broken jaw within the first ten minutes of play.

Asheville struck first with a 10th minute score from outside center Payton Marshall to give the visitor’s a 5-0 lead. Marshall went on to post a Man of the Match performance as he scored five tries to lead the Asheville attack. The Bootleggers bounced right back and drove deep into Asheville territory. Clayton Captain and No. 8 Gareth Davies knotted the score at 5-5 with a 15th minute try.

The sides continued to trade possession and territory as they pounded away at each other. In the 24th minute, Asheville took the lead with another try from Marshall. The conversion from Jacob Vertel gave Asheville a 12-5 lead. Minutes later Marshall struck again with a long range score to extend the Asheville lead to 19-5.

Clayton got back into the match with a 29th minute score from Bootleggers wing Jared Garcia to cut the deficit to 19-10 with less than ten minutes to play in the first half. With just minutes left to play Asheville struck one more time with a converted try from lock David Lindsey. As the half neared, the Bootleggers won the restart and pushed into the Asheville red zone. With time expired, the Bootleggers were awarded a penalty just left of the posts. Clayton’s Ed Dixon knocked over the penalty goal to close the half with the Bootleggers trailing 26-13.

It was a hard fought first half where the Bootleggers left a handful of good opportunities unconverted. The squad went into the break looking to close the gap on the scoreboard. Asheville weren’t having any of that as they added 40 unanswered points in the second half to push their lead to 66-13 with less than ten minutes to play. Asheville got scores from David Ellis, Brent Morgan, David McAllister, Kenneth Wayne, and two more tries from Marshall with Vertel providing the conversions.

Battered and bruised, the Bootleggers got a consolation score with less than five minutes to play as Trey Eason made a break inside of the Asheville 22 and off loaded to a supporting Ted Hardy who went over for the score. Asheville added one last try and conversion from Vertel as time expired with Asheville taking a commanding 73-18 victory over the home side.

“It wasn’t pretty,” said Bootleggers head coach Rich Munro. “They were better than us. We had some injuries that really hurt us, but full credit to Asheville. They are a well drilled and strong side. They kept to their structure, wore us down, and then turned up the heat in the second half.”

With the 1st team match over, the Bootleggers 2nds took the pitch against a Wake Tech/Campbell/Asheville Motley side. The two sides produced a high scoring and entertaining match that went down to the final kick. After an early try from the Motleys, the Bootleggers strung together some solid possessions that produced tries from Brendan Fitzpatrick, Alick Holland, and Wes Smith.

The Bootleggers’ scrum was working well as they stole multiple feeds and gave their backs a good platform to attack. midway through the half, Ted Hardy scored off of an No. 8 attack off of a scrum. That was followed by another score from Smith as the 2nds took a commanding 31-15 lead into halftime.

The Motleys came storming back in the second half as they punched in multiple scores. The Bootleggers picked up another try from Fitzpatrick and one from Jim Bartles in the second half as the Motleys edged closer and closer. With time expiring, the Bootleggers held onto a 41-34 lead. The Motleys scored a well worked try, but the kick was not converted as the home side held on for a 41-39 victory.

“It was a great chance for the Clayton RFC to support a couple of area start up college clubs and get more experience under the belts of our rookies,” said Clayton RFC assistant coach Jason Niemiller. “Our new players are learning our overall play structure and have embraced our club spirit.”

The Bootleggers return to action in two weeks as they host a D3/D4 doubleheader at East Clayton Community Park. The Clayton 1st team hosts Columbia in a big Carolinas D3 matchup while the 2nds takes on New Bern in a Carolinas D4 league match.

Bootleggers Roll in D3 Opener

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – The Clayton Bootleggers opened up their Carolinas D3 season in style with a 87-24 victory over Fort Bragg. It was a dominating effort from start to finish for the Bootleggers’ 1st team against a Bragg side that was stronger than the scoreboard reflected. Clayton ran in a total of 15 tries with seven different players crossing the whitewash during the match. The emphatic win was exactly what the club was looking for to start the new season. The Bootleggers used a patient and structured attack to create and exploit mismatches throughout the match.

“Playing away at Bragg has always been tough on us,” said head coach Rich Munro. “They’re a physical side that does well to keep us out of our game plan. It was a great effort by all of our guys on Saturday. They were patient, played to our structure, didn’t try to score on every touch, and went through the phases. Bragg didn’t give up many soft tries on Saturday. ”

It didn’t take long for the Bootleggers to get onto the scoreboard as Jared Garcia started off the scoring in the 4th minute and then followed it with another try a few minutes later to stake the visitors to a 10-0 lead. Continued pressure from Clayton led to a penalty just inside of the Bragg half. A nice kick to touch from Gareth Davies led to an attacking lineout for the Bootleggers just outside of the Bragg 5 meter line. Clayton went straight to their maul and slowly drove the ball towards the goal line. With the maul appearing to stall out, Ed Dixon broke away from the back of the maul, found a crease to the defense, and went over for a try. Dixon converted his try to give the Bootleggers a 17-0 lead with 14 minutes played.

In the 20th minute, Davies crashed over the line for his first of three tries in the match. Another conversion from Dixon extended the Clayton lead to 24-0.

Bragg then buckled down on defense and the sides began trading possession. Bragg began to create some go forward with their pack and worked their way into the Clayton half. Bragg flyhalf Lauivaa Tavai got the home side on the scoreboard with a nice run. Justin Parker converted the try as the Bootleggers’ lead was cut to 24-7 with less than ten minutes to play in the half.

The rest of the half was all Clayton as Austin Lyons, Davies, and Garcia each scored tries to put an exclamation point on the half for the Bootleggers. Dixon converted 2 of the 3 tries as Clayton took a 43-7 lead into the half.

The Bootleggers continued to keep up the pressure on Fort Bragg as the second half began. Trey Eason was the first Bootlegger to score in the second half as he added a 49th minute try that was converted by Dixon. A few minutes later Lyons added his second of the day which was converted by Dixon to extend Clayton’s lead to 57-7.

One of the best tries of the day came in the 55th minute as wing Wes Smith gave chase to a kick from midfield, put another foot to it, and then won the race to touch it down in the end zone. The impressive score pushed the Bootleggers lead to 62-7.

With the score beginning to get out of hand, Fort Bragg struck back with two tries in quick succession. Timoci Volavola scored a long range try that was converted by Collin Hayward in the 60th minute. Off of the ensuing kickoff, Bragg broke free after a few phases and Quentin Patten added another score to cut the Clayton lead to 62-19.

The Bootleggers bounced back with another try from Eason and two more from Lyons to bring his total to four in the match. The barrage pushed out the Bootleggers’ lead to 77-19.

Bragg added one final score as Patten went over for his second try of the match with less than five minutes to play in the match. The visitors bounced right back with tries from Paul Castellana and a final score from Davies, his third of the match, to close out the score at 87-24 in favor of Clayton.

The match was a complete effort from the Bootleggers as the squad received contributions from all 23 players on the roster.

“Depth has always been where we’ve struggled,” added Munro. “We’ve got some real depth building in the squad now and competition for spots on the 1st team is going to get tough. If we want to compete and make a return to the playoffs, we need our reserves to come on and give us some punch in the second half. They did that today.”

“I’m very proud of how everyone played,” said Captain Gareth Davies. “We played as a team and were very selfless with the ball. We have a few things that we need to improve on, but kicked off the matrix season with a big win. Now it’s time to go back to work to prepare ourselves for our next game.”

The Bootleggers’ 2nd side opens up their D4 season this coming weekend as they travel to take on Southern Pines D4. The Bootleggers return to D3 action at home on October 20th when they host the defending Carolinas D3 Champs Asheville in a big divisional match.

Clayton 87 Fort Bragg 24

Clayton Roster: 1: Dixon 2: Sanyer 3: Parker 4: Davis 5: Carter 6: Hile 7: Morgan 8: Davies (C) 9: Anderson 10: Beauregard 11: Garcia 12: Eason 13: Lyons 14: Smallwood 15: Russell

Subs: W. Smith, Hardy, Stillwell, O’Riada, Castellana, Taylor, Shelton, Allen

Clayton Scoring

Tries: Lyons (4), Davies (3), Garcia (3), Eason (2), Dixon, W. Smith, Castellana

Conv: Dixon 5/12, Beauregard 1/3