KENTUCKY RETAINS SCRC CHAMPIONSHIP
By Dave Redden
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Kentucky rugby had to rally from deficits of 14-0 and 26-14 to complete a late second half comeback and lift the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference championship trophy in back-to-back seasons.
Alabama came out strong straight from the first whistle and opened up a quick 14-0 lead while Kentucky was still finding its feet in the game. Senior, Nick Lewis pulled a try back in the 12th minute and Dom DeGeronimo crossed the line to tie the score at 14-14 after 18 minutes.
Alabama struck next with two tries, one of which was converted for a 26-14 lead as the game headed to the interval. Kentucky was able to pull within five points as Aidan Gill was awarded a penalty try to leave the score at 26-21 at the half.
Five minutes into the second half Josh Bryant gave the Wildcats their first lead with a converted try and a 28-26 scoreline. Alabama fought back and took the lead back just three minutes later at 31-28.
After a period of around 20 minutes where kicking for position seemed to be the order of the day Kentucky took the lead with an outstanding try by freshman, Kai Carlberg as he dived in near the right corner flag to finish off a great passing move by the Wildcats. The conversion hit the post and left Kentucky nursing a slender 33-31 lead with ten minutes still to play.
Five minutes later and goalkicker, Brendon Esson slotted over a penalty kick to extend the Kentucky lead to 36-31 and, as it turned out, conclude the scoring.
Kentucky was able to retain the SCRC Championship that they won after defeating Tennessee in last year’s final. The Wildcats will now take their 7-1 season record into the National Playoffs. Their opposition and venue have yet to be announced.
2017 saw the Wildcats make it to the national Final Four and the team will be looking to go at least one better this time around and appear in the Championship Game.