HAVELOCK, NC – On Saturday, the Clayton Bootleggers travelled east to take on Cherry Point. Travelling strong, the Bootleggers hoped to bring home a victory, but expected a hard-fought match against a side that is becoming a nice friendly rivalry with the men from Clayton. In a hard hitting affair, the two sides traded leads and big hits on their way to a 22-22 standstill on base at Cherry Point.
The Bootleggers came out strong with early possession, territory, and some nice offloading tactics. Small mistakes cost Clayton some early opportunities, but it appeared to only be a matter of time before they would cross the goal line. About midway through the first half, the Bootleggers got on the board after Jon Ryan cleaned up an errant lineout throw by Cherry Point deep in their own half and dove over for a score.
Shortly after, Clayton once again pressure down the pitch and outside center Adam Hester found a gap to score under the posts. The conversion by flyhalf Nick Zitani was good and the Bootleggers had a 12-0 lead with less than ten minutes to play in the first half. Just as the Bootleggers were starting to get momentum, the rain came and the offloading game employed by Clayton turned into a series of knock ons and poor passes. Cherry Point slowly began to turn the momentum of the match as they dominated the scrum.
With a few minutes to play in the half, Cherry Point got on the board with a converted try. The sides finished the half with Clayton clinging onto a 12-7 lead.
Needing to clean up their mistakes, the Bootleggers came out in the second half and scored again as fill-in wing Ben Johnson scored down the sideline to give Clayton a 17-7 lead. With their lead extended and a chance to pull away, the Bootleggers once again put themselves in the hole with poor handling and passing. Cherry Point began to pin Clayton back with kicks and the pressure resulted in three unanswered scores as the home side went from down 17-7 to having a 22-17 lead with ten minutes to play.
Desperate and frustrated, the Bootleggers pushed on looking for a break. They got it by way of No. 8 Gareth Davies who saved the day as he turned over a ball at a ruck and raced 80 meters for a game-tying try. With the score tied, Clayton pressured deep in the Cherry Point half for the last ten minutes of the match, but were unable to break through as the match ended in a 22-22 tie.
“It was certainly frustrating,” said Team Captain Ted Hardy. “We had our opportunities and just couldn’t finish. Fair play to Cherry Point though. They played hard, dominated the set pieces, and were a much better side than we faced last Fall.”
Clayton 22 Cherry Point 22
Tries: Ryan, Hester, Johnson, Davies
Conversions: Zitani 1/4
The Bootleggers close out their Spring schedule this coming Saturday, May 2nd, as they host Southern Pines at East Clayton Community Park. Kickoff at 2pm.
About the Clayton Rugby Football Club
Founded in 2013, the Clayton Rugby Football Club is a men’s rugby club affiliated with USA Rugby and the Carolinas Geographic Union. The club participates in Division IV of the CGU. The club is open to men, ages 18 and over, regardless of skill level or playing experience. In just a year’s time, the club has grown from 7 players to over 30 active playing members. If you’d like to learn more about the Clayton RFC or are interested in playing, please contact the club at [email protected] and a club representative will be in touch with you shortly.