Under the lights of Student Legacy Park in Corvallis, OR, the Civil War got under way on an extremely rainy pitch. With pride, bragging rights and a conference title on the line Oregon State beat their arch-rival Oregon Ducks 39-0 to stay undefeated and in first place in the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference.
With a rivalry of this magnitude, emotion is always in players' heads during pregame. “They got a lot of that soaked up,” Oregon State Anthony Lally said. “The boys got to the pitch early, set it up and made sure to stay loose.”
At the beginning of the game, it was obvious the weather was causing a lot of frustration on either side. Knock-ons were plentiful and killed either team’s chance of gaining any bit of momentum. Finally though, Oregon State got inside the Ducks 22-meter and fullback Carl Pitzer sailed a kick through for an early 3-0 lead.
Soon after, it was none other than winger Nate Kimmel doing what he does best and touching down for his first of two scores and setting the single-season record. Kimmel received the ball out wide en route to his ninth score in four games for an 8-0 lead. Soon after, Kimmel’s second score of the game came when the Beavers took advantage of discipline rucking. Scrumhalf Colter Rodman quickly offloaded to Kimmel who took it in stride, dragging two defenders to add to his record and a 13-0 lead.
On the game went with both teams playing quick off penalties and showing phenomenal pressure defense forcing multiple mistakes. Oregon State took advantage when prop Sean Clark bulldozed his way for a score through the uprights off a quick tap from a Duck penalty and giving Pitzer an easy conversion for 20-0 lead.
Then, just before the half, the Beavers used some quick passing through a mixed backline to get the ball to flanker Cam McDonnell for a 25-0 halftime lead and full momentum in front of a capacity home crowd.
The second half got off to yet another slow start, with both teams struggling to find a rhythm with the rain coming down harder than it had all night.
However, it was Oregon State, once again, finding a way to the scoreboard. Prop Jake Helbling took advantage of yet another Oregon penalty deep in their own territory and plunged in to make it a 32-0 game with a Pitzer kick.
The scoring ended when reserve Emerson Helbling made a strong run down the left side of the pitch of about 60 meters. Though he didn’t score, it eventually set up a lineout for the Beavers who worked their way down to inside the 5-meter. From the ruck, the backline took care of the rest when inside center Robert Kennedy touched the ball down off a key pass from flyhalf Nick Cutrell. Pitzer would add the kick for a final score of 37-0.
From there, it was just an endurance contest to play great defense and wait for that final whistle. When it did ring; OSU coaches, fans and players, especially the seniors, clapped and cheered in celebration knowing the War was over and bragging rights belonged to them.
“It was senior night, so it was a big night and huge win for the boys,” Lally said. “We are always working for that perfect game; showed some good 15-man rugby in the first half, second half was a bit scrappy, but to Oregon’s credit they stepped up and put us under pressure, and holding onto the all under that pressure is something we can work on.”
As for getting an inside perspective, who better than captain Mike Gamm. “Huge part of today was disciple with an emotional game like this, especially in the first 20 minutes,” Gamm said. “One of the main things I wanted to the guys to work on was positivity. We know we have a lot of talent this year and sometimes we get down on each other because we expect a lot, but we just need to work on being positive no matter what.”