The perfect storm of having to start the Ivy League schedule even earlier than last year, Princeton’s long, multi-stage, medical clearance process, together with getting back to campus weeks after all the other Ivy teams, meant that the Tigers had no time for a pre-season warm-up match, and had only 34% of our players cleared and available for our September 23rd opening match against the University of Pennsylvania in Penn Park Philadelphia.
U Penn has a strong side with several new outstanding international freshman players from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, all with significant past rugby experience.
The first half was very physical and each side traded tries. U Penn added a penalty kick. Princeton tries in the first half went to tight head prop Nezim Mmegwa and center Jack Kilgallon. Half time score was 15-10 to U Penn.
U Penn came out storming at the start of the second half and scored two impressive unconverted tries taking a commanding lead of 25-10 with about 30 minutes to go in the match.
The tide began to change when, deep in their own half of the field, a U Penn player received a yellow card for foul play. Princeton took advantage with Mmegwa adding to his total and scoring two tries, one of which was converted by fly half Kwame Amaning. This took the score to 25-22, U Penn still in the lead.
Most unfortunately Mmegwa went off with an ankle injury following his very impressive hat trick of tries. PURFC showed real character scoring one more try moments before the final whistle when, after a series of passes outside, wing Luke Hall beat three committed Penn defenders to score in the corner. Final score was 27-22 to Princeton, coming from behind in a show of support for our injured senior prop.
Princeton Man of the Match was awarded to Nezim Mmegwa.
The game could easily have gone either way. We thank U Penn for the match and wish them all the best in the rest of the Ivy season.
Princeton continues a stretch of away matches with next week’s game against Brown in Providence, RI.