Tiger Rugby (2-1) earned another win after defeating the University of North Alabama 38-12.
Captain of the team Musa Banat said a win in this game would establish a sense of pride for the team. Banat said last year the Tigers lost to the Lions, and this game was their redemption.
“It was outstanding to watch the team have such confidence,” Banat said. “We played with so much more confidence this outing than last year.”
Memphis is currently on a two-game winning streak after victories against Mississippi State and UNA. The Tigers have averaged 28.7 points per game and allowed an average of 13 points per game after three match-ups. Grant Caldwell and Turk Wigley have demonstrated strong percentages in the kick attempts as well. All three teams Memphis have played have been near 50 percent kicking accuracy, whereas they have been near 72 percent with conversion kicks and field goals.
Memphis went into halftime with a 10-5 lead over the Lions.The Tigers have led going into halftime for all three games this season. Banat said coach Steve Swatzyna was not satisfied with the current outcome of his team’s performance.
“Our coach saw what we were made of and he knew we had more in us,” Banat said. “We made substitutions and we took over the second half.”
One of the key players for the Tigers was Britton Roedel, a junior who plays wing. Roedel scored a career-high four tries in the game against the Lions.
“Overall it was our fitness that set the difference,” Roedel said. “We exploited them when they didn’t keep good coverage and that is what it all boiled down to.”
Another key player to the Tigers’ success was freshman wing Ian Byers. Byers has been called the ‘best support player.’ Byers has delivered multiple passes that soon went for tries in recent games.
North Alabama was frequently caught with having their defenders not playing deep, which allowed the UofM players to kick behind them. The Lions did not make adjustments soon enough to prevent the Tigers from exposing this mistake several times. The kicks from Wigley were well placed, the passes were spread out and the ball was moved properly to the wings. The Lions could not adjust quickly.
Swatzyna said he not was pleased with his team at halftime and he tried not to coach during the game because he believes his players should run the game.
“The big thing was I told them we were doing some things right, but we were failing to take advantage of what they were giving us.” Swatzyna said. “The second half was better and we were able to take advantage of their inability to cover our wingers.”
Swatzyna said he was pleased with the final result and he believes his team has a strong potential to win their upcoming contests at the Nashville Rugby Tournament. Memphis is expected to play three teams during the weekend in Nashville.