Philadelphia vs. Albany
Albany 13 - Philly 5
September 9th, 2011
The second game of the 2011 fall season brought the club home to Albany for a four week stretch that consists of three home games and a bye. Albany's opponent for their home opener was Philadelphia. Philadelphia and Albany have spent their rugby existences in separate unions and separate divisions so the two clubs have little knowledge of the other. Last year, Philadelphia had lost to Providence (a familiar Albany opponent from their DII years) in the regular season but Philly then got the upper hand in the play-offs. Word from other clubs with experience against Philly was that their forwards were big and they (naturally) used that as part of their game plan, spending a lot of time churning the ball up the middle of the field and pilling bodies into the rucks. At the very least, going into the game Albany knew their days of easier DII league matches were over.
Philly came out fired up and ready to play and had Albany on their back foot from the start. Even some of the spectators commented after the game that they thought the club was going to be for a long day at the hands of Philly the way the game started. Fortunately Albany didn't give up any quick points in those opening minutes and by the 10 minute mark the tide was turning with Albany securing possession and breaking tackles offensively and coming up hard on defense and keeping Philly between the 22's. It was at the 15 minute mark that Ruth Robertson got the scoring portion of Albany's day started with a 20m scamper on the far touchline that ended in the tryzone. The kick by JoAnne Kos was a close one... but it didn't quite turn in enough to add the other 2 points.
As the first half wore on Albany gained more confidence on both sides of the ball. Philly's big forwards were able to break the gainline from time to time but they would always be reeled in by a determined Albany defender or two before they could offload for a hoped for try. Aggressive, front foot defense also kept the pressure on when the ball got out to the Philly backs and it was this pressure that forced several knock-ons. The knock-ons along with a mounting penalty count killed any offensive momentum the visitor's got going and with about 7 minutes to go Albany was finally able to capitalize off of one of those miscues when Beth Fairall notched a try out wide. Once again Jo was close from the outside but didn't catch the break and the half wrapped up with the score 10-0 in Albany's favor.
Second half saw both teams make some slight adjustments but pretty much continue where they left off. Despite their size advantage Philly backed off of contesting at the breakdown (probably because of some the penalties they were getting), this enabled Albany to keep the pressure up by stringing together multiple phases and once again it was the Albany defense resulting in Philly handling errors. At the 33 minute mark Philly earned a hard fought try (no conversion) and reminded the home team that a win was far from guaranteed.
With now what seemed like a long 7 minutes to play, another Philly try would tie up the game and a conversion would give them the win. Albany faced the challenge with determination though didn’t tighten up and try to play it safe. Often best way to protect your lead is to go on the attack… and that they did, advancing down the field until they got Philly in penalty trouble again. This time it was a penalty in front of the posts that JoAnne slotted perfectly to give Albany a much more secure 8 point lead with only injury time to run down. A minute later and the ref’s whistle signaled the end of the match and the home team had their first official Division 1 lead. Albany 13 – Philly 5
Albany's competitive DII women's rugby club.