(Photo: Lynelle Kugler scored four tries to lead the Amazons to victory. Dropkick Photos)
Both Twin Cities Amazons and Beantown weren’t particularly pleased with their first outing of the Women’s Premier League season, but the Zons burst into action early and established a lead that would sustain them to a 38-14 victory.
“It was a classic first game,” Amazons coach Roger Bruggemeyer said. “You could tell that both teams were rusty. We both hadn’t played a 15s game in pre-season, and when you’re up against your hardest competition, it’s hard to be up to speed right out of the shoot. Beantown forced us to make mistakes and we got a little sloppy.”
Twin Cities looked strong during the first quarter and got some nice breaks in the backs. Outside center Lynelle Kugler made the most of those advantages and ended the day with four tries. Once the home team established a comfortable lead, the forwards relaxed a little, and that’s when Beantown’s pack picked it up. The scrum walked in a try to get on the board, 21-7.
“Beantown’s forwards really hammered us,” Bruggemeyer said. “Then our forwards struggled to get back into it. We were thankful for the early breaks, because it was a huge battle after the first 15 minutes.”
It seemed as if the wind was shifting in Beantown’s direction, and center Amy Daniels nearly scored off a long break. The Zons contained that scoring opportunity and ended the half with another converted try, 28-7.
Twin Cities outscored Beantown two tries to one in the second half, with wing Ashley Clancy dotting down for the visitors. In addition to Kugler’s four tries, flyhalf Rebecca Radtke and wing Kayla Finn scored five-pointers while fullback Dez Markovich converted four of six tries.
“Obviously I’m happy with the win, and anytime you can beat Beantown is great,” Bruggemeyer said. “But I’m never completely happy; it’s the nature of being a coach. We got some good play out of the backs, but with newer players in the front row, our pack needs some work.”
There was some high tackling, hands weren’t quite there, passes were a little off, as was body positioning in the ruck – all things that will improve with some more time on the practice pitch. For the Zons, they’ll be working on their set pieces, as a couple of newer front rows, who aren’t used to starting or the increased playing time, find their feet.
“The players have been good about being prepared for the season, but it’s impossible to duplicate game speed during practice,” Bruggemeyer said. “The players were fired up, as the WPL has taught them to take every game seriously. We learned that lesson a couple of years ago.
“We didn’t have much of a buildup; there was so much 7s going on and I didn’t want to force the issue,” Bruggemeyer added. “It’s hard to get a good caliber game without travel, and no DI or DII team wants to play your WPL side. We did that a couple of years ago and I found it did more damage – teaching bad habits – than it did good.”
Fortunately, both Beantown and Twin Cities have healthy rosters and good depth. They both field DII teams that compete in regular New England and Midwest competitions, so their future development is more secure than those teams that have dropped out of the WPL, or teams like Keystone and New York that have numbers in the low 20s.
“We had such a hard time getting our B side games, so we’ve wanted to field to DII team for awhile now,” Bruggemeyer said. “It’s great for newer players, as some might be afraid to come join if they have to play at the premier level right away. But now they’re happy to practice with the WPL players and wet their feet in DII.”
Twin Cities also has a great feeder system, as many former players coach high school and college teams in the area. The outlook appears bright, in the near future and beyond, and Twin Cities will continue their development this weekend against the Keystone, which dropped an 82-12 decision to the DC Furies on Saturday.