Harvard managed to hang on to a slender lead to beat a highly-motivated Princeton team 21-25 in Ivy Rugby D1AA Final 4 Playoffs. The match finished with Princeton battering the Harvard goal line and the Crimson hanging on by their fingertips.
PURFC traveled to Boston Friday night for the Ivy Play-offs to determine which Ivy team would get the Ivy Rugby USA D1AA playoff seed. Harvard was the strong pre-match favorite, seeded first, but a young Princeton team (11 were freshmen and sophomores) made them work hard for the win and came close to surprising the hosts at the very end.
Harvard started fast and scored two quick tries to make the score 12-0. Princeton then began to settle and found its rhythm to came back to make it 12-7 at halftime. After the halftime break, Princeton struck first to take the lead 14-12. Showing all their experience, Harvard players then started to create mismatches and use their size advantage to make line breaks, which resulted in two Crimson trys bringing the score to 22-14. Immediately at the restart, Princeton was called offside and the Harvard kicker slotted an easy penalty kick to extend their lead to 25-14.
Refusing to believe the game was now out of reach, Princeton marched the ball into the Harvard 22 and, showing great determination, scored a converted try to make the score 21-25. Five minutes later following a try-saving high tackle on the Princeton wing close to the Harvard try line, the referee called over the Harvard player and showed him a yellow card for dangerous play, reducing Harvard to 14 men. Princeton attacked the Harvard try line with renewed energy but limited time on the clock.
Knowing a Princeton try would end their dream of a National Title, Harvard did everything they could to stop the determined Princeton runners. With Princeton in possession and the ball again only inches from the Harvard goal line, Princeton knocked-on and the referee blew his whistle to end the game. The Harvard sideline erupted onto the field as both teams, in the best spirit of rugby, shook hands and clapped each other off the field.
Nezim Mmegwa playing his first rugby match since his injury September 2015 was made the Man-of-the-Match for his great all round game as well as scoring two trys.
Perhaps the last word is best left to Harvard’s final Twitter post about the game:
— Harvard Men’s Rugby (@harvardmrugby) April 9, 2016