MIT prevail in North Shore nailbiter

Teams:MIT vs North Shore
Played:09/15/2018 @ North Shore
Score: 36 - 34 MIT win

MIT travelled to Lynn, MA on Saturday September 15th to take on a North Shore team who have been a thorn in the side in recent years. A run of unfortunate injuries and other commitments meant the team travelled with just a handful of subs, and with several players fulfilling unusual roles. The element of surprise proved useful in the first lineout of the game, where outhalf John G stepped in to jump at the front and secured the ball. This cunning plan yielded progressively less impressive results, as the opposition quickly realised that this was the only option available.

With North Shore using their lineout advantage to control possession, the early passages of the game saw MIT on the defensive for long periods of time. To their credit, the back row and centers defended admirably as a unit, pressuring the North Shore attack into some handling errors. A loose ball was snapped up by Alex S, who had too much pace for the cover defence, even going uphill, and went 50 metres to score the opening try.

North Shore fought back quickly, winning their own restart, as well as several penalties at the ruck and kicking long to touch to establish a decisive territorial advantage. Despite some Trojan defensive efforts on the MIT side, North Shore managed to score a try and a long range penalty to move into a 10-7 lead.

Realising that the lineout was an unreliable platform, MIT changed tactics and began to keep the ball in hand, going quick at every possible opportunity. Some dazzling footwork from fullback Tom, and centre Eric, put MIT inside the North Shore 22. John G, on a reprieve from lineout duty, went quick from a penalty, drawing the North Shore defense to him and popping off to prop Nick who made no mistake from short range. More MIT pressure led to a penalty, which John G slotted over to go ahead 17-10.

As the penalty count increased, North Shore fought their way back into the game. A lineout deep in MIT territory led to a line break, and despite an excellent covering tackle from fullback Tom, the MIT defence couldn't reorganise quickly enough to stop the try on the next phase. North Shore struck quickly to score another, and at 22-17, and with number 8 Frank temporarily sidelined with a thumb injury, the game suddenly had shifted dramatically. Camped on their own goal line right before half time, the MIT forward pack showed their mettle, and a series of huge tackles from Kenniel, Michael and co. led to a North Shore knock on, and the half time whistle.

MIT started the second half strongly, tackling soundly in the back line, and using turnovers and quick penalties to counter attack. Winger Greg intercepted a loose pass and looked like scoring a long distance try only to be caught yards short of the try line by the cover defence. Alex A, in his quest to finally win a game while wearing the captain's armband, was a menace with ball in hand all day, and in the following phases, got the ball in space, and used his trademark fend to break through the defence and score under the posts. In a rare sight, the opposition flanker charged down the conversion attempt, to leave the game tied at 22-22.

In what was now becoming a familiar pattern, North Shore won their own restart, and advanced into the MIT 22. With signs of fatigue beginning to show, the North Shore outhalf beat a number of MIT defenders on a cutback line to score an easy try. The ensuing conversion made the game 29-22, and with no subs left and no. 8 Frank in obvious pain with a broken thumb, it was beginning to look like a uphill battle for MIT.

In reality, MIT was playing with the advantage of a significant downhill slope and used this advantage to push into the North Shore half. A solid platform in the scrum gave the MIT backs a chance to show their skills, and a beautifully worked move saw centre Eric break cleanly through to score under the posts. This time, kicker John G moved the ball back out of charge down reach and converted to draw level once again.

Camped deep in their own 22, MIT sliced an attempted clearing kick, which briefly looked disastrous, until Kenniel collected, and a series of offloads saw the ball come to Ion in space, who sprinted 50 metres to score in the corner and put MIT ahead 36-29.

The frenetic pace of the game, the lack of subs, and the heat began to show on the MIT defence. North Shore, with the help of some fresh legs on the wing, broke through out wide to score a try, but could not convert from the sideline, and the game stood at 36-34 with less than 5 minutes to go. Outhalf John G, obviously excited at the prospect of another lineout, boomed the restart, which bounced once before skipping into touch just yards from North Shore's own line. Not to be deterred, North Shore spread the ball wide, and in a sapping final few minutes tested the MIT scramble defence time after time. John G, Eric, Tom and Bobby all made critical covering tackles to preserve the lead.

With time expired, and the entire sideline screaming, MIT won a crucial turnover at the breakdown, and Eric kicked the ball into the Lynn hinterland to secure a dramatic victory for Tech.