BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Radcliffe women's rugby team rallied from
a 12-5 halftime deficit to take a 20-17 win over Bowdoin in the
NERFU regular season finale on Saturday. The Polar Bears finish 3-2
in league play and will travel to play at Stonehill in the first
round of the New England Tournament next weekend. The winner
advances to the NERFU Division II "Final Four" on Halloween weekend
at New Hampshire.
Bowdoin controlled the pace of play for much of Saturday's contest, and forced an early penalty from Radcliffe near their goal line. Uche Esonu took the ball up and the forwards won the ensuing ruck, leaving scrumhalf Becky Stevens to get the ball from the base of the ruck and dodge defenders as she touched it down for the 5-point try. Stevens made the conversion kick and Bowdoin led 7-0.
Play continued back and forth, with a few too many unforced errors before Radcliffe took advantage of several phases of ball and an overlap in the backs, scoring their first try. Bowdoin answered with a combination of aggressive tackling followed by several players passing and running down the right sideline. Zara Bowden touched it down in the try zone for a 12-5 lead at half.
In the second period, Radcliffe took a kickoff and ran straight through the forward pack, linked with their backline and set up a long scoring opportunity bringing the score to 12-10. Following two injury substitutions, Radcliffe again found space through the defense and took its first lead, 15-12.
Bowdoin fought back and again moved downfield with long kicks,
hard runs and key pressure from the backs. Stevens picked up
a loose ball near the goal line after successive Bowdoin rucks and
again, found the endzone for the score. The long, wide-angled
kick looked plenty good but it hit the post and bounced out.
However, Bowdoin had retaken the lead 17-15 with under 5 minutes to
The Polar Bears could not maintain possession in the late-going, and found themselves playing defense back and forth across the field until Radcliffe found a hole and outran several Bowdoin defenders for the winning try.
Photos courtesy of Brian Beard and Creative Images Photography.