Annapolis, Md. – Navy men’s rugby (2-0) had another big victory in its conference opener, as the Midshipmen rode a big second half to defeat Southern Virginia (1-1) 75-0
“We took another step forward against a big and physical Southern Virginia team. We know we still have plenty of work to do but we are satisfied that we executed our game plan effectively,” said director of rugby Gavin Hickie. “Peter Ratnayake had a great training week and capped the week off with a standout performance, while 8-man Ben Haugh is setting new standards for the team. Finally, Lewis Gray realizes his potential as one of the best collegiate players in the nation.
Navy wasn’t able to get off to the fast start they had a week ago but managed to find the try zone twice in a five-minute span, thanks to Tanner Russell. Russell scored a try in the 17th and 22nd minutes after being pushed in by a pile of Midshipmen for both of his tries. A pair of conversion kicks from Lewis Gray gave Navy a 14-0 lead. JD Bengston stretched Navy’s lead to 19-0 in the final minute of the first half on his first try of the season to give Navy some breathing room as they headed into the locker room
The next 40 minutes were a different story for the Mids, as Roanin Krieger scored a try not even two minutes into the second half to quickly give Navy a score. In the 45th minute, Southern Virginia tried to kick the ball deep into Navy territory, but the kick was lined right at Gray, who used a big run to make the Knights pay for a try. Gray continued his scoring efforts with a conversion kick right after to give Navy a 33-point cushion
Southern Virginia managed to keep Navy out of the try zone for the next ten minutes, but Bengston managed to get Navy back in the scoring column with a try in the 56th minute. Another conversion kick from Gray gave Navy a 40-0 lead. Southern Virginia made the same mistake twice by kicking it to Gray again in the 59th minute, which he turned into a long run to score his second try of the match. Gray handed kicking duties over to Landon Opp, who nailed his first kick of the year
Peter Ratnayake scored his first try of the season just a few minutes later and Opp’s second conversion kick in as many tries put the Midshipmen ahead 54-0. Along with the third try of the match from Bengston, coach Hickie got results from one of his reserve players, Presley Sayavong, who scored a pair of tries in the 68th and 78th minute to cap off the 56-point second half for Navy
Gray led Navy in scoring for the second straight contest, scoring two tries and converting six of his kicks to finish the match with 22 points. Bengston led the Mids in tries with three, tying him with Ben Haugh and Ratu Osea Melibua for the most in a match this season. Russell and Sayavong also ended in double figures with ten points each thanks to a pair of tries. Opp went a perfect 4-4 on conversion kicks to give him eight points on the afternoon. Navy had a big game in making its conversion kicks, nailing 10-11.
Men’s rugby will be back in Annapolis again next Saturday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m. against Mount St. Mary’s. Fans can catch all the action at the Prusmack Rugby Complex or watch for free on Navy Athletics YouTube.