Rugby falls at Lindenwood

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Bob Reynolds, Staff Reporter

The Eastern rugby team dropped its second-straight game on Tuesday losing 24-13 to Lindenwood University in Springfield, Mo.

Eastern coach Frank Graziano said he wanted to keep Lindenwood scoreless for the first 15 minutes in order to give themselves to chance to win the game.

After emphasizing defense in practice over the past two weeks, it paid off.

The Panthers shut Lindenwood out through the first 15 minutes and had an 8-0 lead.

Madison Overbay converted a try and Hannah Vieth added a converted penalty kick for the Panthers loan scores of the first half.

Later in the first half, Lindenwood scored a try and converted on the two-point conversion to cut the Panther lead to 8-7

Graziano said he was impressed by his teams’ defensive effort in the first half.

“We didn’t even hardly let them out of their own end,” he said. “The only time that Lindenwood) scored is when we did let them out of their own end. Other than that we had pinned them back to where they could not generate any offense at all. Even when it looked like they were going to generate some offense, we made some nice defensive plays.”

With the Panthers leading at half, Graziano said his team felt great about their chances to win.

This was only the second time the Panthers have had a lead in the first half, dating back to last season.

“We came off feeling good about our chances,” he said. “When we came over to talk at half, there was nothing but positive things to say.

The second half was a different story for the Panthers as Lindenwood came out four minutes in and scored a try to gain a 12-8 advantage over Eastern.

Lindenwood added another try ten minutes after that to give them a 17-8 lead.

Graziano said his team looked like they were asleep during the first 15 minutes of the second half.

“They scored twice very quickly,” he said. “They put us under pressure and we were in trouble.  I ran down into the end zone and kind of yelled at them a little bit, just to wake them up, but the damage had already been done, unfortunately.”

Lindenwood added another try to give them a 24-8 lead.

The Panthers would score late in the second half, when Lacey Viano picked up a loose ball and ran it in for a try from 25 yards out to put the score at 24-13.

The Panthers will have a quick turnaround as they head to Southern Illinois-Carbondale on Saturday.

With the quick turnaround, Graziano said he does not know how his team will respond heading into the game.

He added that some players on the team have bumps and bruises, but they all came out of the game on Tuesday without any major injuries.

“After you play, you maybe realize that the turnaround was good for us,” he said. “I won’t know that until we practice. We certainly have enough time to heal our bodies. I think for the most part everyone handled the game really well. We will see how the turnaround is to where you suddenly want to go out and prove you can win a game.”

Graziano said the biggest thing he wants to work on for Saturday’s game is blending in the newcomers with the returning players while on the field.

“There are always going to be parts on the video when you go through all of that, where somebody is two yards out of position or not understanding what their part is in the play,” he said.

This will be the first time since 2009 the Panthers will face off against the Salukis, in which the previous matchup, Eastern defeated Southern 103-0.

The Panthers and Salukis will kick off at 1 p.m. in Carbondale.

Bob Reynolds (@BobReynoldsDEN) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]