Columbus Over Cincinnati

By Justin Rutledge | 09.21.15
DI competition in the Midwest continued over the weekend when the Cincinnati Wolfhounds faced off against Columbus. When the match was over, Columbus had taken a decisive 45-20 win.

Saturday’s result is the second consecutive win for Columbus this season, and with these two early successes in the books, things appear to be coming together well on offense. According to Taylor Howden, head coach of the Columbus side, his team’s attack was on point Saturday. His forwards attacks broke past the Cincinnati defensive line, and the backs benefitted from there. This style of attack enabled Columbus to get to the Cincinnati try line often on Saturday, and the attack was anchored by a few stand-out performances.

“Winger Pila Huihui has joined us from San Francisco Golden Gate and he had strong debut, scoring two tries and showing he can attack well from all parts of the paddock,” Howden said. “Shawn Riley bagged a double on the day as well. Former Ohio State University halfback, Luke Hickey, was in good form as well. Dave Fetalaiga was fantastic at the collision area, putting in a shift while defending at first five-eighths.”

Despite outscoring Cincinnati on Saturday, defense was an issue at times for Columbus, especially at the breakdown. According to Howden, in the past two matches his players have been tested around the breakdown and had trouble responding at times. Players’ nerves got the better of them on a few occasions Saturday, leading to penalties for inching offside or putting hands in the ruck at the wrong time. Some of these infringements resulted in points Saturday when two penalty tries were sent Cincinnati’s way.

Cincinnati’s forwards proved to be problematic for Columbus in the set pieces, as well. When the packs came together at scrum time, it was Cincinnati that put on the pressure.

Howden and his men won’t be resting on a two-match winning streak, though. The players have elements of play that need to be sharpened. According to Howden, the next run of practices will have a focus on defensive patience clarity of assignment in terms of defense at the breakdown, as well as some scrum practice. Fortunately for the Columbus club, Brent Hinz, a talented prop, will be on the case. Tightening up these areas will surely help Howden’s players going forward in this year’s competition.

“No one wanted us in the new, so-called Midwest Rugby Premiership,” Howden said. “There were a fair amount of messages going around about us not being good enough for the competition. We believe we have the tools to be a contender, not just in the Midwest but nationally, and if we don’t have that belief then we might as well throw the towel in. We’re not here to make up the numbers. We are here to compete, win and play rugby.”

Columbus will host the Chicago Lions next weekend as they come off of a dominant victory against the Milwaukee Barbarians.

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