The Columbus and Fort Benning Cruise-A-Matics needed just one minute to score the game’s opening try Saturday against High Country of Atlanta as fullback Ben Diquattro kicked the ball forward and wing Blake Bourne recovered inside the try zone.
Bourne later ran in a try off a pick-and-go in the first half and also ran in a try in the second half off an assist by John Gabriel as the Cruise-A-Matics went on to rout High Country 64-3, earning them a playoff spot in the USA Rugby South quarterfinals April 16.
Though High Country responded with three points from a penalty kick, the Cruise-A-Matics went on to score 57 unanswered points and led 43-3 by halftime.
“We dropped a lot of balls at the beginning, but when we started catching them, we were able to get the ball where we wanted,” Cruise-A-Matics scrum half Ed Crane said. “Once we got ahead, we wanted to keep going and not take our foot off the gas and put the game away early.”
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While some scores came quickly, the Cruise-A-Matics overwhelmed and wore down the High Country defense by winning scrums and driving toward the goal line.
“We had a lot of strength in the scrum,” Cruise-A-Matics fly half Liam Marmion said. “It made it a lot harder for them to tackle us. We were able to push their defense back from the start.”
Once the Cruise-A-Matics got within 10 yards of the goal line, High Country rarely kept them from scoring a try.
“We know when we get (near the goal line), we have the size and strength to put the ball in,” Crane said.The Cruise-A-Matics will be returning to the USA South Rugby playoffs for the first time since 2006, when the team consisted of players form Fort Benning and Montgomery, Ala., coach Gary Kent said.
Kent said the team was very close to reaching the playoffs last year and the difference this season was the ability to pull out close wins and grow as a team.
“They’ve worked hard for three months to get to this position,” Kent said. “They’ve had some tight games, but they’ve stood up to the task.”
Kent said he is unsure about his team’s chances in the playoffs, but regardless is pleased with the way his team is playing now.
“If we continue to grow, we will be solid in those games,” Kent said. “Who we come up against, I don’t know. I just want us to be really solid.”