The Clayton Bootleggers opened up their Summer 2015 season with a promising run at the Airborne 7s in Fayetteville, NC. The tournament, played as a celebration of D-Day, brought in a number of teams from North Carolina in a day-long rugby fest. The Bootleggers finished the tournament with a record of 1-2-1, but showed marked improvement in a short amount of time. New additions to the 7s squad like Anthony Crumity, Chris Crumity, and Adam Hockaday combined with veteran Bootleggers to put on a solid performance.
The Bootleggers opened up their morning playing against the Raleigh Vipers. A skilled and well-drilled side, Raleigh had the bulk of possession, but were made to earn every point. A couple late scores by Raleigh flattered the score line as the Vipers handed Clayton a 33-12 defeat. Anthony and Chris Crumity each scored tries for the Bootleggers in the losing effort.
Next up, Clayton took on Southern Pines, the club’s opponent in their final match of the Spring season. Southern Pines got on the scoreboard first with a quick try, but Clayton quickly bounced back with tries from Chris Crumity and Ted Hardy to take a 12-7 lead into halftime. A try from Mattia Mueller, right on the other side of the half, extended the Bootlegger’s lead to 19-7. With the game in control, the Bootleggers were hit with a rash of penalties that opened up the door for Southern Pines to get back into the match. Southern Pines scored two tries in the final minute of the match to pull even and end with a 19-19 tie.
After the first two rounds, the tournament was redrawn and Clayton was placed in the Bowl Competition where they faced Fort Bragg in the Bowl Semifinal. The Bootleggers came out on fire and dominated the match from start to finish as Chris Crumity ran in four tries and Anthony Crumity scored three more to pace the offense to a 43-0 victory.
In their final match, the Bootleggers faced off against a solid Cape Fear side. The two teams last met in 7s at the King of the Hill 7s last Summer with Cape Fear rolling to an easy victory. This time around, Cape Fear was going to have to earn it. Clayton battled Cape Fear from the first kickoff until the final whistle. Cape Fear took a narrow 7-0 lead into the half and looked to pull away in the second half before Clayton worked in two tries from Anthony Crumity to cut the score to 19-12. The Bootleggers had momentum on their side, but not time as the final whistle blew with Cape Fear holding a 19-12 lead.
The Bootleggers showed promise. After being only competitive for half of every 7s match last season, Clayton now looks like a team that is going to battle for the entire match. The team has some solid forwards, two really good finishers, and some veteran leadership. As a few more guys become available and the team gets more 7s specific practice time, the Bootleggers could become a solid 7s side.
“We still have some ways to go,” said Tournament Captain Ted Hardy. “But, we definitely can see the difference between last year and this year. Fitness is better and the team is more patient. We’re still a few players off from having the depth we need to be really competitive, but it will come. The guys played hard today and had a lot of fun in the process. That’s about all we can ask for.”
Raleigh 33 Clayton 12
Tries: A. Crumity, C. Crumity
Clayton 19 Southern Pines 19
Tries: C. Crumity, Hardy, Mueller
Conv: Hardy, Cunningham
Clayton 43 Fort Bragg 0
Tries: C. Crumity (4), A. Crumity (3)
Conv: Hardy (4)
Cape Fear 19 Clayton 12
Tries: A. Crumity (2)