Wisconsin marched back to the National semifinals over the weekend, beating Naples 47-0 Saturday and Princeton AC 52-17 Sunday.
“The game was much closer than the scoreline indicates,” said Wisconsin coach Joe Lippert of Sunday’s win over Princeton AC. “It was a close game until about the last 15 minutes. Credit to them for that.”
Wisconsin did blow the game wide open eventually, partially because of the insertion of Andrew Hanske. The WRC rookie and former Wisconsin Badger standout No. 8 rested the first half after a big game on Saturday. The score was 26-17 when he subbed on, and he helped Wisconsin pour on 26 unanswered points to end the game.
“He’s a difference maker, and having him on the squad has really filled things out,” said Lippert of Hanske. “He’s another really good explosive rugby player. He’s such a hard runner, he’s such a physical presence, he does all the little things right, and he’s rounded the team out this year.”
Also big on the weekend was wing Andrew Norton, who raced in a handful of tries over the course of both games.
Wisconsin, which lost a close final to Rocky Gorge last year, is deeper this time around, and more seasoned.
“I think we’re a bit more level headed about it,” said Petty. “We’re happy and we’re fortunate and we feel like we deserve to be in the spot we are, but we’re hungrier than we were this time last year."
WRC has been using the way last season ended as a motivator this year. That won't give them an extra edge in the semis, as they face Santa Rosa, who were bounced one game earlier by Rocky Gorge in 2012.