Busy Red River weekend includes four conference games

D1A Rugby: Busy Red River weekend includes four conference games
Photo Credit: Marietta DeAngelo

It’s the final month of the Red River Conference regular season, and as action heads into March, eight of the conference’s nine teams are in action Saturday afternoon. And while Baylor has secured the North and on an off week, the South remains up for grabs between Texas A&M and #17 LSU, but a victory for the latter would most likely mean a Bears, Tigers showdown in the Red River Championship.

Texas A&M vs. #17 LSU

The Tigers have held off the Aggies in their two most previous meetings. Back in November, it was a tale of two halves for Texas A&M. After giving up 19 points in the opening 14 minutes of play, it was a deficit that the Aggies pulled within striking distance of, but ultimately could not recover from. Five separate Tigers registered tries in that contest, with two coming from Terence Alexander. Texas A&M tallied four tries of its own, with the majority of their points coming in the second half, it means a full 80 minutes will be pivotal if the team wants to stay in the South Division title race.

LSU holds two games in hand over the Aggies, so a loss will not necessarily doom the Tigers’ chances, but the winner of Saturday’s game will be in control of their own destiny. LSU wants to keep things simple with a ‘W,’ and they hope to make it happen from the silver lining garnered from the loss against #8 Arkansas State.

“Our biggest takeaway from the Arkansas State game was the realization that we can compete at an elite level,” says senior lock and team Vice President Zach Stratton. “We also were able to recognize a few key aspects of our game that we still need to improve on like our fitness and cleaning up the breakdown. We have worked on these things in practice and are focused on playing our pattern against A&M. If we retain focus on these aspects of our game we should have a productive outing on Saturday.”

Texas A&M meanwhile comes in to Saturday’s game on a two game win streak, having knocked off TCU and Texas, and scoring 123 points in that span. Its10-point loss to LSU remains the most points the team has fallen by this season.

Saturday’s match can also be seen live via stream at: http://eepurl.com/cExrbH

Arkansas vs. TCU

The Razorbacks rest at 3-3 in the Red River currently, and two of those wins were earned in the month of February. Despite a harsh loss to Oklahoma back in November, the other two matches Arkansas lost were close and bittersweet. Head coach Warren Fyfe partially credited that to an unbalanced roster, and players at unfamiliar positions in the absence of fly half Jack Casey. The February Player of the Month made an immediate impact upon his return to the Razorbacks, helping contribute on the scoreboard and defensively, and at the same time has allowed a few Razorbacks to return to their natural positions. In a sense, it is a freshly tuned squad, whose goal is to end the regular season campaign on a high note.

“The addition of Jack Casey this semester has significantly strengthened our backline since I was able to move Alex Rees to his best position at scrum half and Jack back to his best position at fly half,” Fyfe said. “He is a player with tremendous vision, composure and game management ability. All qualities that are essential in a fly half.”

Ending the year strong starts with TCU, who have yet to secure a win in their two spring appearances thus far. In 2017 three players have found tries for the Horned Frogs: Logan Legg, Nick Larson and Zach Trigg.

Texas Tech vs. Houston

The Red Raiders aim to end their three game losing streak against one of the newest members of the Red River. Houston meanwhile looks to make it two in a row following their first conference win last week against Texas.

Averaging 15 points the last three games, Texas Tech have been led by Robert Flinn in those matches. The Cougars, meanwhile, hope to see more from full back Ryan Becker, who kick started the team’s rallying win against the Longhorns. But they will also be without Brett Funderburk, who will be competing with the Atlantis program in the Americas Cup Elite bracket in Las Vegas this weekend.

Texas vs. Oklahoma

While missing out on the North Division title against Baylor, Oklahoma is also shooting for a strong regular season finish. Baylor’s Mason Hering admitted it was small mistakes that kept the Bears from having a better first half, when the Sooners burst out of the gate. The early offense fizzled out for Oklahoma, and Baylor took full advantage in the second half.

“We had players not on the same page with other players,” Sooners Head Coach Doug Neubauer commented. “We are working on staying with the calls made and making better decisions.”

They hope to be on the same page this time around versus a Texas team that is averaging roughly 12 points a match in the month of February. In its loss against Houston, Corin Wakefield’s penalty kick and Jack Beadle’s try early in the game was the only offensive action by the Longhorns – similar to the Sooner’s outing against Baylor.