You'd be forgiven for thinking that Saturday's Wilmington v. Brandywine was going to be a big game in DII club action. These two teams, after all, have been at the forefront of the national DII scene for some time, now.
But in the end, it was anticlimactic. Wilmington crushed Brandywine 54-10, and did it despite missing five starters from the team that beat Doylestown 37-26 two weeks ago.
Wilmington certainly looked as if they would complete a rout, as they scored three tries to lead 21-0 after 13 minutes. The club was playing simple rugby, said Head Coach Struan Murray.
"Working hard to get over the gainline and then some excellent support play," explained Murray. "Two of the first three tries were the direct result of a clean break which was finished off by a supporting player. The first half was surprisingly open and fluid for most of the time although both teams made mistakes as time went by because we were both being fairly ambitious."
Wilmington led 28-5 at halftime, but after that Brandywine did get a bit of a sniff at comeback.
"Brandywine put in some good defensive hits and pressured us," explained Murray. "Their being competitive at the breakdown forced us to step up and be more physical ourselves. And the second half was much more about us establishing our play around the rucks and being patient and waiting for the gaps. Our forwards set a good platform and with the go-forward ball our backs were able to get over the gainline. That was the key. Brandywine scored first in the second half but after that we were accurate and controlled and played good solid rugby."
Led by Jordan Ashburn and DJ Wolf in the forwards, and Steve Lange, on his first start, and Mitch Vannoy in the backs, Wilmington made the gainline repeatedly and consistently. Kevin Barry led all scorers with 24 points from two tries and seven conversions.
"It was very satisfying to see the players get a good win and with a number of different starters across the fifteen it was a successful test of our depth," said Murray.
The victory put Wilmington at 5-0 in the Eastern Penn conference, well ahead of everybody else ... well, almost everybody. Doylestown, having lost to Wilmington already, is still in with a shot, but they need some help. If Wilmington falters, they could be overtaken for 1st, but right now, after Saturday's impressive victory for Wilmington, it looks unlikely.