ANNAPOLIS, Md. — In a hard-fought exhibition match that showed the Navy men’s rugby team’s strengths and vulnerabilities, they fell to Trinity College Dublin 36-14 on Tuesday at the Prusmack Rugby Center. Despite taking an early lead, Navy couldn’t hold off Trinity, who scored 31 unanswered points to secure the victory.

Director of rugby Gavin Hickie noted the valuable experience gained from the match. “Win, lose, or draw, we knew we would take valuable lessons from this game against one of the best teams in Ireland. Today, we learned about the subtleties, nuances, speed, and how any inaccuracy will be punished in a game against a high-quality opponent like we saw today,” said Hickie.

Credit: U.S. Naval Academy

The match began with a near-miss from Navy’s Roanin Krieger, who attempted a 50-22 kick that narrowly failed. The first few minutes saw penalties and lineouts from both teams, setting a competitive pace. Trinity secured the match’s first try in the 16th minute, but Navy’s defense showcased their skills, keeping Trinity at bay and gaining a scrum opportunity past the 10-meter line.

Navy claimed the lead in the 45th minute when Sean MacLaney ran through three Trinity defenders to score the team’s first try. Krieger’s conversion kick made the score 7-5 in Navy’s favor. However, the information was short-lived as Trinity found a gap in the Navy defense to regain the lead at 12-7 and continued to dominate for the remainder of the match.

Despite losing, Navy did find some late-game success. Jacob D’Amico scored a try in the 80th minute, concluding the match at 36-14 after Krieger’s successful conversion kick. “We’re down a bit, but we will come back stronger and better in our next match against Indiana,” Hickie added.

In terms of strategy, both teams utilized penalties and scrums effectively. Trinity managed to counter Navy’s maul attack multiple times, and both teams were vigilant about taking advantage of turnovers and penalties. Navy was penalized several times for high tackles and knock-ons, which contributed to their loss.

Navy’s performance also highlighted areas for improvement, particularly in maintaining possession and reducing inaccuracies. “When you play the game at the very top level, and you’re inaccurate, you get punished. That is an important lesson for us to see,” Hickie elaborated.

The Navy men’s rugby team will return to the Prusmack Rugby Center on Saturday, Sept. 16, to host the defending Big 10 champion Indiana, with kickoff set for 1:30 p.m.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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