Rugby team opens season in Wisconsin

Bob Reynolds, Staff Reporter

Redshirt sophomore flanker Emalie Thornton is tackled by several players from last year's season open against Quinnpiac on Aug. 31, 2013. The Panthers open their season at 1 p.m. Friday against the Wisconsin All-Stars in Madison, Wis.
File Photo | The Daily Eastern News
Redshirt sophomore flanker Emalie Thornton is tackled by several players from last year’s season open against Quinnpiac on Aug. 31, 2013. The Panthers open their season at 1 p.m. Friday against the Wisconsin All-Stars in Madison, Wis.

The Eastern rugby team will open its season against the Wisconsin All-Stars at 1 p.m. in Madison, Wis.

The Wisconsin All-Stars are a team comprised of group of college rugby players that are from different branches of the University of Wisconsin including its main campus in Madison. Players are also from Stevens Point, Milwaukee, Platteville, Oshkosh and Eau Claire.

Last season the Panthers lost to the All-Stars 66-7 at Lakeside Field. The All-Stars got out to a 24-0 lead in the first half and kept pouring on the points with 32 in the second half.

The Panthers lone try came from a penalty on an All-Star player for a potentially dangerous tackle near the goal line on Hannah Veith. Veith was credited with the try. Carissa Burge added the two-point conversion.

The loss margin of 59 points was the Panthers worst of the season.

Grace Hodve of the All-Stars accounted for 39 points for Wisconsin. The All-Stars were also 7-of-8 on two-point conversions in the win of the Panthers.

The Panthers did edge the All-Stars 12-to-6 in line-outs won, but both teams earned 12 wins at the scrum.

The Panthers did have an advantage in penalties taken with an 18-to-25 margin.

This season the Panthers look to avenge that loss as they begin on the road for the first time in two years with a new crop of players.

After losing two of its top two players, head coach Frank Graziano added eight new players including six freshman.

The Panthers will be young this season, just like last year, but they will have more experience. The leading scorer from a year ago, Miranda Hankins, will be one of the top players from last season returning to Graziano’s lineup.

Hankins lead the Panthers in trys with eight last season and points with 40.

Also returning for the Panthers this season is Burge, who is a senior scrum-half. Burge was the second-leading point-scorer on the team with 39. She also had five tries on the season and converted 47 percent (7-of-15) of penalty kicks.

This will be the first of two consecutive road matches for the Panthers, who head to West Lafayette, Ind., next weekend to take on Purdue. The Panthers return home on Sept. 27 to host Tennessee at Lakeside Field.

Bob Reynolds can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]