By Demi Priestyeski
(DETROIT, MI) – The Windsor Rogues Rugby club took on their local rivals, Detroit RFC, from across the border on Saturday, April 30, in the Ambassador Cup.
Conditions were perfect for a hard fought rugby match; the cold drizzle combined with the soft earth. With the home sides normally dominating the series over the last few years, Windsor were looking to break the pattern with a more experienced roster for the 2016 encounter.
Windsor had a solid core going in but, like the opener in Mississauga two weeks ago, lacked some size in the pack and experience in the front row. Always ready for what’s needed, coach Scott Murphy, who normally plays at No. 8, reacquainted himself at loose head prop, and old boys Craig Weir and Nish Rama stepped up to play their first attempts at hooker and tight, respectively.
The heavier Detroit pack were looking to exploit that advantage, but the Windsor team all stepped up, tackling hard and limiting damage at the fringes off set-piece scrums. With Murphy and Josh DeSantis leading the way on crash tackling, and Harry White and Spencer Bryant cutting off anything moving wide, Windsor manage to weather the initial onslaught to keep the score line down.
However, eventually Detroit drove a forward try over to open the scoring. Soon after, Windsor’s Simon Kazibwe combined well with try-scorer White for a nice opportunistic try.
Closing in to half time, there was an exchange of penalty scores and Detroit led 13-7.
Soon into the second half, the Rogues rallied hard and put together a series of good phases resulting in an excellent team try, scored and converted by Chris Shaw, thus giving the Rogues the first lead of the new season, 14-13.
Detroit was not done yet, though, and using the better squad depth available as the home side, they brought in a couple of fresh players and quickly answered back with a try to put them up 18-14
The game was back and forth from there. Windsor elected to use the match to test new players, which affected the flow of the game. Detroit’s No. 8, Derek Fraser, sealed the deal when he took a hard run close in, jump-stepped the first would-be tackler, then finished by smashing through a weak tackle.
Windsor didn’t give up and applied pressure late but, being more than a converted try out, were unable to mount a comeback.
Great effort by all. The final score was in Detroit’s favour 23-14.
A special mention to Ryan and Austen who each got a touch and a trot on at the end in their first ever rugby game watched or played.