By Matthew Finney, Nodaway County Rugby Football Club president
The year’s first rugby match in Maryville saw Nodaway County Rugby Football Club’s Stags come out strong against Topeka Rugby Football Club and finish with a big win.
The 34 degree day kept the fan base small, but two men’s rugby clubs showed up in full force. Since Saturday’s a rugby day, even a winter snowstorm would have been hard pressed to cancel the match. Luckily, the weekend didn’t see a snowflake and it ended up being a perfect rugby day.
Topeka has a veteran squad and pressure was on the Stags to come through with a “W,” hosting Topeka for the first time. The Stags team is regularly training new players and it can be difficult at times to field a fully prepared team. After four years of hard work from returning residents and college players, the Stags have put together a competitive side that will likely make life difficult for clubs in their division this year.
The Stags started off the match in a hurry by getting the ball out to Sean Bartlow, right wing, who made quick work of running in 50 meters for a try or a score. The defensive line held strong throughout the match, but the tough Topeka forwards did well crashing through with their large size. Tries or scores alternated from start to finish with the Stags consistently holding the lead. Just before half, the home team broke open a large lead with two consecutive tries from club newcomer Cody Young, prop.
Second half gameplay was much the same as the first with alternating scores by the two clubs. Topeka did manage a comeback, but fell short as time expired and Nodaway won 50 – 35. Flanker Kody Koster’s hard hitting nature and relentless carries on the attack earned him “Man of the Match” recognition.
Nodaway scores noted: Shane Miller, flanker; Kody Koster, flanker; Dylan Zender, scrum half; Skyler Anderson, inside center; all one try each. Other scores came from Bartlow and Young, both with two tries and Nate Murphy, fly half, 5 conversion kicks.