A-State Rugby Win Over Lindenwood Secures Home Playoff Game
ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Arkansas State University’s third-ranked rugby team earned the right to host a quarterfinal playoff game after narrowly defeating No. 4-ranked Lindenwood University, 21-20, in the regular season finale at Harlen C. Hunter Stadium here Saturday.
Due to the win over Lindenwood, the Red Wolves have a guaranteed home playoff game, Saturday, April 26, at 1 p.m. at the A-State Rugby Field. Both universities received a first round bye in the playoffs.
"I am very proud of this team and how we played on Saturday against Lindenwood University,” said head coach NeMani Delaibatiki. “We have had some players to step up and start due to injuries within the squad. But the game by far was the best game we have played this season, and I couldn't be more proud for how they played the game for 80 minutes.”
Delaibatiki had praise for Harry Higgins as A-State’s team captain against Lindenwood by saying that the 6-4, 225-pound sophomore from Brisbane, Australia, steered the team well from the front, leading both offensive and defensive charges. Higgins and freshman Ricardo Lategan, a 6-0, 195-pound center from Bloemfontein, South Africa, scored on A-State's tries.
Arkansas State jumped to a quick 7-0 lead, but Lindenwood answered in a hurry, making the score a 7-7 tie. The Red Wolves were able to take a 21-7 lead in at the half. Shortly into the second half, Lindenwood added more points to cut A-State’s lead to 21-15 and then another score. However, the Red Wolf defense helped to preserve what would be the final score of 21-20.
“All the players were quite fired up from the start, and we never let up throughout the whole 80 minutes,” Delaibatiki continued. “It was a great team performance. I believe in each and every one of our guys and their capabilities to step up and play good A-State rugby.”
Delaibatiki noted that as the playoffs begin, each team would want to play its best rugby possible. When the Red Wolves learn who their quarterfinal opponent is, Delaibatiki knows his team will be ready.
“The players are starting to believe in themselves and each other. Regardless of who it is, I know our team will be ready,” concluded Delaibatiki. “We respect all our opponents and their rugby programs and what they bring to the game. But I know this team has worked so hard for this all season.