Saturday morning the Burlington Rugby Club had 17 players ready to make the trip all the way from northern Vermont to Bayonne New Jersey; then one of their players woke up sick.
“We had one sub coming down,” said lock Tyler Riggs.
In the end, that was enough, as Burlington scored two tries in the first 14 minutes to lead 12-0, and held on to win their Northeast DII club quarterfinal 17-10 over the Bayonne Bombers.
“We started well, kind of plateaued in the middle, but then hunkered down and held on,” said Riggs. “They threw everything at us near the end.”
Flyhalf Geoff May was one of the heroes for Burlington, scoring those two early tries. That made it 12-0, but Bayonne came back. Wing Mike Vogt (yet again) was the try-scorer for Bayonne as they edged closer 12-7 at 20 minutes. That score remained through halftime, and in a battle in the second half, Bayonne eked out a penalty kick to make it 12-10.
“Burlington played incredible defense in the second half,” said Bayonne’s Tim Skennion. “We were in their zone maybe 75 percent of the time. But they held us out, and they earned it.”
After a long stand in their 22 Burlington forced a penalty and cleared the ball away. That turned the tide, and eventually scrumhalf Richard Voogts sniped over for a try to put the game away 17-10.
But perhaps the key man for Burlington was flanker David Kronenburg, who kept up his own intensity when his team hit a flat period in the middle of the game.
“He was in their face the entire game,” said Riggs.
It’s a huge win for Burlington, which started the season getting blown out by Worcester.
“That was a huge wakeup call for us, and made us decide if we were here to play rugby or not,” said Riggs. “We stepped it up after that and have gone way beyond expectations.”