Possums Secure Playoff Spot with Win over Memphis

March 29, 2014 Atlanta, GA.  Knoxville and Memphis agreed to move their matrix match to Atlanta and kick off at 11:30 so both teams could attend the USA Eagles match scheduled for 3:30.  Morning showers had made field conditions sloppy but that didn’t stop Knoxville from taking control from the start. Memphis received the opening kickoff and was immediately put under pressure forcing pushing them behind their 22. Inside center Shaun Shanks was able to poach the ball and three passes later winger Steven Miller was able to score a try in the game’s opening minute.  The conversion by Tzerefos was good. (7-0)

Memphis was not ready to roll over and the next 20 minutes went back and forth.  The physical possum pack kept working hard and pounding the ball which eventually took its toll on the smaller Memphis side. A kick and chase from Tzerefos and Miller pinned Memphis deep inside their 22 where they committed a penalty.  Tzerefos converted the penalty and Knoxville took a 10-0 lead 26 minutes into the match.  Five minutes later Knoxville was awarded another penalty in Memphis territory and Captain Wayne Chermely was able to get the ball down on the resulting penalty play (15-0).  Knoxville took the ensuing kickoff and was able to move the ball out wide to winger Johnathan Towe who scored.  The conversion by Tzerefos was successful and the Possums took a 22-0 lead into the half.

The momentum from the end of the 1st half carried into the 2nd half.  Five minutes into the half Knoxville had a line out in Memphis territory.  Fullback Chris Meredith received the ball at pace from the set piece and was able to slide under the posts for the try. Tzerefos added the conversion (29-0). On the following kickoff, Knoxville had a mental breakdown and was caught resting on a sizable lead. Memphis intercepted an errant pass and was able to get on the scoreboard (29-5). The Possums shook off the mistake and finished the match strong by controlling the breakdowns and using a balanced attack led by flyhalf Panagitis Tzerefos.  Knoxville finished with 3 more tries to end the half strong (Ray Moore, Shaun Shanks, and Trace Fuller). Final Score 46-10.

The Possum attack was well-balanced with 2 tries from the forwards (Chermely and Moore), 2 tries from the centers (Shanks and Fuller), and 3 tries from the deep 3 (Miller,Towe and Meredith). Knoxville’s attack was set up nicely from several strong set pieces led by forwards Tyler Smith, Ray Moore, and Matt Worsham. Co-Man of the match honors go to Centers Shaun Shanks and Trace Fuller. Both ran the ball hard through contact, scored a tries, and created turnovers on defense.

Memphis was very appreciative of Knoxville Captain Wayne Chermely for organizing the Atlanta match that allowed both sides to watch the USA vs Uruguay match.  Social Chair Brian Evans also did a great job with the social (sans spatula) in the tailgate area. Special thanks to Old White Rugby Club for lining the field and allowing us to use their facilities.

With the win on Saturday Knoxville has secured the True South East #2 position for the first round of the USA Rugby National Championship Playoffs. The Possums will play Birmingham (True South West #1) in Huntsville on April 12th. The winner of that match will face the winner of Chattanooga (True South East #1) and Baton Rouge (True South West #2) on Sunday for the rights to advance to the next round in Charlotte, NC on May 3rd.

Pictured:  Knoxville Line Out; Ray Moore running with the ball; and Knoxville Captain Wayne Chermely with the NACRA Championship Trophy presented to USA Rugby South at half time of the Eagles match.

memphisTries: Miller, Chermely, Towe, Meredith, Moore, Shanks, Fuller

Conversions: Tzerefos (4/6), Towe (0/1); Penalty Kicks: Tzerefos (1/2)

Halftime score: 22-0

Final score: 46-10

Referee: Randall Johnson

Line Up:

1. Ellis
2. Michael
3. Worsham
4. Smith
5. Moore
6. Rosenblum
7. Troxler
8. Chermely
9. Woodson
10. Tzerefos
11. Feliciano
12. Shanks
13. Fuller
14. Miller
15. Meredith
16. Towe
17. Dickenson
18. Bowlin
19. Hamilton
20. Tathum
21. Lane

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