CLAYTON, NC – On a hot and sunny early September afternoon, the Clayton Bootleggers opened up their first season in Division 3 in style with a convincing 48-10 win over Fort Bragg. The Bootleggers used a seven-try barrage to take home their first official D3 victory in club history. The scoreline didn’t properly reflect the contest as Fort Bragg played hard defense throughout the match and kept the Bootleggers at bay for large portions of the match.
“There are things we need to work on and improve,” said Head Coach Rich Munro. “But, it was a good start to the D3 season . We need to regroup and start getting ready for Cape Fear.”
The Bootleggers didn’t take long to open their account in the match. Flyhalf Brian Beauregard slotted a penalty goal in the 3rd minute to give Clayton a 3-0 lead. Beauregard added to the score a few minutes later when he crossed over for a try to give the Bootleggers an 8-0 lead. Inside center Manosh Premachandra added to that total in the 11th minute with a try. Beauregard added the conversion to give the Bootleggers a 15-0 lead.
It wasn’t until the 30th minute when Clayton extended their lead with outside center Stuart McKenzie running a nice line off of Beauregard and slicing through the Fort Bragg defense for a try. The conversion gave the Bootleggers a commanding 22-0 lead. With halftime coming near, the Bootleggers got one more score with hooker Eric Hile breaking the Fort Bragg line and racing 50 meters for a try. The conversion pushed the lead to 29-0 as the clubs went into halftime.
Just as in the first half, the Bootleggers came out strong in the second half. Beauregard added his second try of the match in the 42nd minute. Scrumhalf Brendan Fitzpatrick scored in the corner after some nice ball movement which gave the home side a 41-0 lead with 30 minutes left on the clock.
With a wide margin, Clayton Head Coach Rich Munro went to his bench early making a number of changes to his pack to bring on fresh legs. With a number of new players on the pitch, Fort Bragg took advantage of a rash of penalties from the Bootleggers to get their first score of the match in the 61st minute. They followed with a try in the 73rd minute to cut the lead to 41-10.
With time expiring, the Bootleggers made one last push with some hard running from No. 8 Gareth Davies opening up space for flanker and team Captain Simon Potter to break away for a score underneath the posts. One last conversion from Beauregard and the Bootleggers settled on a 48-10 win over Fort Bragg.
“It was a great game,” added Club Captain Simon Potter. “We’re still not at full strength and not firing on all cylinders, but the guys put in a good effort.”
The D3 match was followed by a highly entertaining match between the Bootleggers D4 side and Fort Bragg’s B side. Just as in the opening match of the double header, the Bootleggers were first on the board. Wing Marlon Norman scored a try on his first touch of the ball in his first game playing rugby. Bragg bounced back a few minutes later and added a conversion to take a 7-5 lead over Clayton. Despite some good opportunities, the Bootleggers were having trouble finishing off scores.
Bragg extended their lead to 12-5 as the half drew to a close.
As in the first half, the Bootleggers scored first in the second half. Bragg had the put in at the scrum in the shadow of their goal line. Clayton second rower Pat Cunningham pounded on a loose ball out of the scrum to cut into the Bragg lead. Ed Dixon added the conversion to deadlock the match at 12-12.
Just minutes later prop Matt Artero busted through the Fort Bragg line and appeared to be in for a sure fire try, only to knock on the ball in goal. Undeterred, the Bootleggers regrouped and followed up with a score from Eric Hile to give Clayton a 17-12 lead with 15 minutes to play in the match.
A double header sweep wasn’t to be as Fort Bragg used a three-try barrage in the last ten minutes of the match to turn a 17-12 deficit into a 31-17 victory. A tough loss for the D4 side, but a great learning experience and much needed game time for players that are pushing for a spot in the D3 squad.
“We saw a lot of good things and a lot of things that we need to work on for both teams,” added Munro.
The Bootleggers return to action at home on Saturday September 24th as they have a double header on tap. The Clayton D3 side takes on North Division stalwarts Cape Fear and the Bootleggers D3 side takes on New Bern in their opening match of the CGRU Division 4 season.
Clayton D3 48 Fort Bragg 10
Tries: Beauregard (2), Premachandra, McKenzie, Hile, Fitzpatrick, Potter
Conv: Beauregard 4/6, Fitzpatrick 1/1
Back Man of the Match: Stuart McKenzie
Forward Man of the Match: Jeff Cosgrove
Clayton D3 Lineup
1: Stillwell (Dixon @ 60) 2: Hile (Sanyer @ 60) 3: Cosgrove 4: Morrison (Bartles @ 50) 5: Taylor (Shelton @ 70) 6: Hardy (Tansey @ 58) 7: Potter (C) 8: Davies 9: Fitzpatrick 10: Beauregard 11: Castellana (N. Smith @ 70) 12: Premachandra (Rogers @ 60) 13: McKenzie 14: Crumity (Haskins @ 70) 15: Chapman
Fort Bragg B 31 Clayton D4 17
Tries: Norman, Cunningham, Hile
Conv: Dixon 1/3
Clayton D4 Lineup
1: Artero 2: Sanyer 3: Liverman (Koczanski) 4: Klingenbeck (Cunningham) 5: Shelton (Bartles) 6: Rogers 7: Allen (Cowan) 8: Artos 9: Haskins 10: Dixon 11: N. Smith 12: Rinehart (Tansey) 13: Castellana 14: Norman 15: Crumity (Hile)