Match Report by Head Coach, Dan Green:
Subzero temperatures and overcast skies greeted HURT as they arrived in Oklahoma to take on northern rivals Tulsa. Days of snow had preceded them leaving parts of the pitch still covered and frozen. HURT had a somewhat travel monkey on their back after losing both on the road to Frisco & Shreveport last season and were keen to shed any stigma they may have inherited. Tulsa on the other hand were ready to get back to an even keel after losing their first two matches, they had a last start victory and HURT was the next step for them.
The referee blew time on and Tulsa kicked the game off starting a tough, physical opening ten minutes as both teams tried to find a weakness in their opposition. First to capitalize on that was HURT center Dennis Walker on the end of a crisp backline movement that saw him fend off his opposite number and scamper down the right flank for the games first try. The big hits continued up the middle for the next ten minutes until the speedy Tulsa winger Jon Moore finally found some space and scored in the corner. All tied up after thirty minutes at 5-5 then HURT center Keegan Mukabana made a bust, created an overlap and fed the ball to winger Marshall Brown who powered over the cover defense to score and give HURT a hard fought halftime lead of 10-5.
After a quick drink and a discussion about how glorious the conditions were the game got back underway almost the same way it started with Dennis Walker creating a hole and scoring near the uprights. Tyler Jurney added the extras against his old club and HURT sprang out to a 17-5 advantage. Tulsa kept up the fight especially in the forwards making HURT earn every yard they gained and were awarded a penalty right in front which they converted to add another three points to their tally. The sixtieth minute rang in the changes and the fresh legs for HURT and replacement winger Jay Westcott made the most of his opportunity scoring his third try in just two appearances pushing the lead further out to 22-8.
Tulsa rallied as the home crowd got behind them and took advantage of a HURT lapse in concentration to crash over for their second try which when converted brought them back within a score 22-15. HURT used this as a wakeup call and found another gear, starving Tulsa of possession while watching the clock tick down. As Tulsa tired, repeated infringements continued to cost them dearly as HURT received a string of ruck penalties culminating in the yellow carding of a Tulsa player and a penalty conversion for replacement Scott Thompson. HURT was up 25-15 with five minutes remaining.
This put HURT up two scores and effectively removed the game from the grasp of Tulsa a point which on the stroke of full time Man of the Match Dennis Walker hammered home emphatically as he crossed for his third try of the day. Thompson converted to close out the road win for HURT 32-15.
Strong games from forwards Carl Newman & Ben Teaney and a powerhouse defensive display from fly half Binh Bui gave HURT the tools to work together as a unit and come out on top. Special thanks to Assistant Coach and Scrum Half Rob Potter for organizing the ground transportation and thank you to Tulsa Rugby Club for being great hosts after the match.
Next game for HURT is against unbeaten northern powerhouse The Little Rock Stormers and will be played on February 22nd at The British School of Houston kicking off at 2pm.
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