By Justin Sweitzer, Assistant Sports Editor
The KU men’s rugby team faced St. Bonaventure in a dominant performance Oct. 3 at the KU rugby pitch. The Golden Bears beat the Bonnies by a score of 24-5, improving their conference record to 2-0.
The game fell on KU’s Family Day, with a diverse crowd of parents and children gracing the sideline in the cold, wet weather.
Both teams were looking to improve its conference record. KU, ranked number six in the East conference, was looking to gain their
second straight win within the conference, against a winless St. Bonaventure team. The Bonnies went into the game with a 0-3 record in conference play.
The Golden Bears took charge early, scoring the first try of the game. It came from fullback Trent Hensley, whose try put the Bears up 5-0 after the conversion attempt was missed.
KU kept the momentum going, as it moved the ball up the pitch. Prop Andrew DeColli offloaded the ball to flanker Jordan Ghyzel to give KU a 10-0 lead.
Flyhalf Devon Somma moved the ball up the center of the pitch, with an impressive charge as KU then moved the ball swiftly to Hensley and wing Vetekina Malafu, before dropping it off to wing Alex Faison-Donahoe, who effortlessly found his way into the in-goal area to score the third try of the game, extending KU’s lead to 15-0.
Inside center John Sage then converted with a kick to put the Golden Bears up by 17.
Scrumhalf David Snead scored off of a drop off from number eight Wesley Hartmann, captain, giving the Golden Bears their fifth unanswered try of the first half. After another Sage conversion, KU brought the lead to 24-0.
KU was just as impressive on their defensive side of the game. Toward the end of the first half, the Golden Bears thwarted multiple try attempts on the try line by a hungry St. Bonaventure team to keep their 24-0 lead going into halftime.
Hartmann was proud of the Golden Bears defensive efforts saying, “I think our team defended really well, as we had no other option, but I was pleased with the tough nose tackling that we showed on our goal line.”
St. Bonaventure put up a stellar fight in the second half as it prevented KU from scoring. It also scored its first and only try of the match but failed to convert on the kick.
Though the Golden Bears came away with the victory, they were not fully satisfied with its play.
Malafu stressed how KU did not play their best rugby against St. Bonaventure, and that the team still has areas of its game that could be improved.
“We need to work on our defensive communication and conditioning so that our offense does not tense up, creating penalty habits,” Malafu said.
If KU is able to improve on those facets of the game, the undefeated Golden Bears will be even more dangerous moving forward.
Hartmann believes that the team will continue to grow, and that time will help to turn the team into one that is ready to compete and be a force in the east.
“I am confident we can be extremely successful this season,” he said. “We definitely have the talent, athleticism, and Rugby IQ to do it. It’s [just] a matter of getting the team to gel” and collectively fire “on all cylinders.”
KU then held off Iona College this past Saturday, winning 33-24, bettering their hands and communication throughout game play.
The men look forward to their next game. Yet, they will be focusing on the homecoming game, when they will be facing Army.