|Teams:||MIT vs Fairfield Yankees|
|Played:||05/07/2016 @ Albany, NY|
|Score:||7 - 45 MIT loss|
On Saturday, May 7, 2016, MIT took on the Fairfield Yankees in the sweet sixteen round of the national DIII playoffs. There was a lot of excitement during the week leading up to the match. Both teams were visited at practice during the week by a former New Zealand All Black & Hawkes Bay player. Coach Sean was excited to have a fellow Kiwi at practice. Apparently Coach Brad was even more excited for the playoffs as his pants literally split open during Tuesday’s training. Keeping things neutral, both teams traveled to the hills of Albany for the game and went through the same identification process before the kickoff to make sure that none of the players were Maurice designed robots.
Fairfield got off to a hot start. They were able to spread the MIT defense by overloading forwards into the backline and throwing accurate miss-out passes. 5 minutes into the game their outside center found a gap and scored the first try. He also converted to make it 7-0. 2 minutes later the same outside center again found a gap out wide to make it 14-0. It was looking like the rout was on, but MIT had a talk under the posts and sorted out the defense. MIT’s wingers, Diego and Hacksaw, upped their work rate and communication levels to help stop the wide attack. The forwards, particularly the front row of Nick, Jarrad and Toro, put in strong work in the scrums to win ball for MIT and slow the pace of the game down. MIT increased pressure on the attackers which led to mistakes and knock-ons. Just before the half, the MIT forwards won a scrum in Fairfield territory. Mick, James, and Marc worked a designed, bushy-tailed play to get the ball into Diego’s hands. The play worked and the Fairfield defense sucked in, leaving Diego free to scamper down the sideline for the try. John G. converted to make it 14-7 at the half.
MIT went into the break with confidence having stopped the Fairfield attack for the majority of the first half. Although Fairfield had controlled possession, MIT were still right in the game. The first 20 minutes further built up their confidence as the forward pack dominated in the scrums. Fairfield were clearly frustrated from getting pushed around. Despite the set-piece success, Fairfield were able to recover with their organized and relentless attack. They worked the ball down to MIT’s 10 meter line. MIT were then handed a yellow card for an intentional knock-on. Fairfield quickly took advantage and scored to make it 21-7. MIT tried to remain calm and reminded themselves that they were in the same situation at the beginning of the game, but some poor tackling off the ensuing kickoff allowed Fairfield to score again to make it 28-7. Fairfield proved to be too fit and too strong for MIT and added 3 more tries before the final whistle.
Man of the Match: Diego
*For professional photos of the match that weren’t taken on an Iphone in the last 4 minutes of the game, visit the Fairfield Yankees Facebook page for hundreds of great action shots from the game.