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Furman Wins Southern Conference

College Men

Furman Wins Southern Conference

Furman University won the Southern Rugby Conference championship Sunday, beating UNC-Wilmington 23-17 in the final.

Furman and UNC-W had played once before, with Furman storming back from a 31-0 deficit only to be edged at the end 48-38. But both defenses were a little tighter this time around.

The Paladins used the wind to play a field position game in the first half, and it worked well enough. Prop Jeff Tonge’s try helped them to an 11-3 halftime lead. Flyhalf Jacob Mulchuck scored Furman’s second try to make it 18-3, but UNC-W came back to make it 1810.

This time, though, the Paladins didn’t let the game get out of hand. Flanker RJ Bradey’s try made it 23-17, and while the Seahawks scored again, Furman remained up 23-17. The game then came down to one play. UNC-W had a lineout five meters from the Furman line. Furman stole the ball and kicked to touch, ending the game.

It was a tough-minded performance from Wilmington, which had to deal with some injuries late in the fall, and an impressive weekend for Furman, which defeated East Carolina 63-7 in Saturday’s semifinal. UNC-W defeated Appalachian State in overtime in their sea, 22-17.

“I am always a firm believer that you learn more from defeat than you do in victory,” said Furman Head Coach John Roberts, harkening back to his team’s loss to the Seahawks Oct. 18. “We learned In our loss that we needed to shore up our scrum and solidly our defense in our centers.  We worked on that for two weeks and travelled to Clemson last week for a joint practice to help with that. They are a top DI team and I credit Justin Hickey and Clemson for helping us. In the long term we will be holding more joint practices - we are partnering to help each become stronger.”

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