This past Saturday, Michigan traveled to Iowa City and defeated the Hawkeyes 35-19, improving its record to 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference.
Iowa, keen to bounce back after their week one loss to Illinois 45-0, came out fighting. The Hawkeyes shocked the Wolverines by punching in a try in the 2nd minute of the game. The much improved Iowa squad “took our boys by surprise” said Michigan Head Coach, Brandon Sparks. This back and forth game really started when Michigan responded through winger William Visco’s 5th minute try. The two sides took turns scoring to make it a 14-12 game in favor of Michigan before Andre Cargill’s 36th minute try helped Michigan take the lead going into the half.
Coming out of the break, Iowa started strong yet again. Scrum half Jerson Neda cut the Wolverine lead to two in the 45th minute bringing the score to 21-19. Michigan responded to its slow start to the second half in similar fashion through hard working prop Nicholas Azzopardi and his 63rd and 75th minute tries.
Coach Sparks spoke highly of his experienced tight head prop. Azzopardi “is a workhorse and there aren’t many props that can go 80 every week like he does. He has always been a grinder for us, doing the dirty jobs that don’t often get a lot praise, so it’s great to see his name show up on the score sheet”. The final score in Iowa City was Michigan 35, Iowa 19.
Iowa will face Ohio state next Saturday while Michigan will have a bye week to prepare for its next match against #6 Indiana. Iowa has improved its play over the past two games and will look to continue its trend by upsetting Ohio at Beekman Park, Columbus, OH.
Michigan will use its extra week of practice to rest key players and build focus towards its match up against a D1A Rugby Top 10 team. The Wolverines will need to improve their focus at the start of games and produce a full 80-minute game to play with Indiana. “We know what kind of effort will be needed to contend with Indiana and this week is all about preparing for next week when we make the trip down there.” said Coach Sparks.
Both teams now have great opportunities to produce great performances against some of the conference’s best teams.