GREENVILLE, SC – Western Carolina’s men’s rugby squad narrowly defeated Furman last Saturday in Greenville, their first Southern Conference contest of the season. The 10-8 win lived up to its billing as the Catamounts’ most difficult conference match-up of the year.
The game’s opening half was a scoreless stalemate, as neither team could penetrate the other side’s defense. The Cats’ defense was highlighted by the type of solid tackling and hard hitting upon which their reputation is built. At the same time, their offense often stopped itself with costly penalties and lazy passing.
The Catamounts jumped out of the game in the second half, however, finally getting their offense on track.
Matt Miller opened the scoring for the Cats with a diving dry, and Jack Williamson added the kick after to give Western a 7-0 advantage. Minutes later the Paladins answered with penalty kick to cut the lead to 7-3.
Keeping its new-found momentum, Furman would take advantage of penalties and well-placed kicks to bring itself just outside the try zone. A costly Catamount penalty for arguing with the referee allowed the Paladins to take the ball in for a try, giving them their first lead of the game at 8-7 while the kick after failed.
Western Carolina still trailed with under five minutes to play. A late drive, however, took them deep into Furman territory. When the Paladins incurred an offsides penalty on the six-yard line, Jeremy Finison hit the go-ahead and eventual game-winning penalty kick to give the Catamounts the 10-8 lead they would never relinquish.
WCU travels to Davidson on February 11 to take on the Wildcats in its second conference match-up. Two weeks later, on February 25, the Catamounts will return home to take on the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest University.