Salisbury beat Towson for the third time this season Friday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah to advance to the DII national final Saturday.
The game opened as every Towson/Salisbury game does, with a lot of high-octane running and some crushing tackles. It also had its share of chippy play, and Salisbury fell on the right side of the whistle early on, as flyhalf Nick Kuhl slotted a pair of penalties to give the Sharks a 6-0 lead.
Both of Kuhl’s penalties were deep in the attacking end, where Salisbury could have been temped to go for a try.
“We’ve had our past with that, people want to go for the try, get the points, but we’ve learned,” said Kuhl.
“That last time we played Towson we were down 19-3. We came back. Every point counted. The penalty kicks actually won us the game. We know against Towson every point counts.”
Directly after the restart following the second penalty, Salisbury scored again, this time a try dotted down by lock Tony Groves, extending their lead to 11-0 with 22 minutes gone.
Towson finally got on the board a few minutes later, mashing in a short-range forwards try scored by flanker Adam Brayek. However, Salisbury managed one more score before halftime, taking an 18-5 lead into halftime.
Salisbury opened the second half with an immediate score directly following the restart, similar to how they scored their first try of the game directly following a restart. This one took the wind out of Towson’s sails, extending the Sharks’ lead to 23.
“We just run. That’s what we do all day during the week when we’re practicing, so that’s our game,” said Kuhl. “We kick, we tire them out, we know the second half’s our half. That was our game, just kick left, right, deep, shallow, hit them and just tire them out.”
Kuhl scored the next 10 points, running in a try, hitting a penalty and slotting a conversion, putting the game away with a 33-5 lead. Towson salvaged some pride with a try in the 67th minute.
“You saw a hard rugby match. They’re great opponents,” said Salisbury coach Robert Davis of Towson. “Both teams, all 30 guys, tried their hearts out there.”
Tries: Kuhl, Groves, Reese, Smith
Cons: Kuhl (2)
Pens: Kuhl (3)
Tries: Brayek, Quinn