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HANOVER, N.H.--Dartmouth is turning Green with envy.
A scrappy, sloppy 11-3 win by the Harvard men's rugby club here at Sachem Field last Saturday left the Big Green wondering how it will perform next weekend in the New England Championships, when it may have to face the Crimson again.
Harvard's triumph over its bitter rival might have bigger implications, reversing a losing trend which has been in fashion since 1986. From 1980-85, the Crimson beat Dartmouth nine straight times, winning a national championship along the way. To narrow the score, the Big Green knocked off Harvard seven times in a row from 1986-90, picking up a national title of their own in 1987.
While the Crimson may not be ready for the national Final Four just yet, it was certainly ready for Dartmouth.
Harvard Co-Captain Eric Chehab, who broke his wrist during last week's victory over Holy Cross and will miss the rest of the season, gave his version of the brutal contest.
"What you just saw was one-and-a-half hours of testicular fortitude," Chehab said.
Midway through the first half, Harvard opened the scoring with a try by Lauren Rose off the scrum. The sophomore back created the opportunity with a long defensive kick, pinning the Big Green deep in its own end.
"The kicking of Rose and [senior Don] Green was our last line of defense," Harvard Co-Captain Andrew Pinkerton said. "And it worked."
Something certainly clicked, since the penalty kick Dartmouth converted minutes later would be all the scoring the aggressive Big Green could muster. But Dartmouth still managed to shove the Crimson scrum all over the field.
"Dartmouth was running the maul and the scrum very well," Harvard Coach Martyn Kingston said. "They were certainly able to push us back."
So why is Dartmouth smarting from its first loss to the Crimson in five years?
"We have better skill players, and we were a much fitter team this time," Kingston noted. "We were holding our own in the line out."
In the second half, Harvard notched a penalty kick and a try to provide the final margin. Ben Frickel picked up the try after a well-placed defensive kick pinning Dartmouth deep in its "coffin corner," to use American football terms.
However, the Crimson failed to make the conversion kick for either try, and missed two penalty kicks as well. In next weekend's New England Championship, Harvard cannot expect to leave 10 points in its back pocket and emerge unscathed.
"We can't afford to miss those kicks in the New Englands," Pinkerton said.
The top three finishers in Saturday's tourney will advance to Northeast Regional play. Boston University, Brown and Dartmouth have earned the top three seeds, so the sixth-ranked Crimson can feel confident about its chances after beating the Big Green Saturday and playing B.U. close a month ago.
"B.U. is not very deep," Harvard senior Will Rava said. "They play with the same 15 guys every game, and one injury could really damage their team."
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