OU’s Struggles in the Set Piece Lead to Loss
March 9, 2011
OU lost a tough, but winnable match Saturday in College Station 28 – 18 against a big and well drilled Texas A&M side. Both teams scored 3 trys and missed out on the bonus point for 4 trys. OU failed to convert any of its trys and kicked only one penalty. A&M was much better in the set piece and did not let the wind affect them as much as it did the Sooners.
OU looked good in the opening minutes of the game with Michael Lair connecting with Meaad Muse on a lineout deep in A&M’s half allowing OU to maintain possession which led to a penalty at the breakdown against A&M at 2 minutes. Kelton Miller took advantage of the opportunity for the Sooners and notched 3 points to gain the early lead over the Aggies. However, the three point advantage was short-lived and the Sooners only lead of the game. OU’s defense was solid for the majority of the first half, but was continually penalized at the breakdown. OU’s mistakes in their own end and decisions to play multiple phases inside its own half cost the Sooners. A&M capitalized on OU’s mistakes and notched three penalties in a span of about 10 minutes to make the score 9 – 3 advantage Aggies.
OU showed some patience and found its way back into the A&M half by putting together a number of phases leading to a couple of A&M penalties. Lair connected with Muse again on a lineout deep in A&M’s half leading to another penalty against A&M near the try line. Captain Taylor Mokate quick tapped the penalty and drove over the line for the try to cut the Aggies lead to one point, 9 – 8.
The OU backs looked dangerous with ball in hand, but could not capitalize on their opportunities in the first half. The Aggies loose forwards on the other hand got involved on the outside and created a few line breaks in the final 15 minutes of the half. The line breaks and territorial advantage combined with a couple of missed tackles by the Sooners led to 2 trys by the Aggies, both of which they converted.
Playing with a strong wind in the first half the Aggies led at halftime 23 – 8. At halftime OU felt they were still in the game and hoped the wind advantage in the second half along with a more disciplined approach would see them come away with the W in the College Premier Division opener. Unfortunately OU was unable to take advantage of the massive territory advantage during the second half.
The Sooners passed on the opportunity to kick at goal multiple times and opted instead to kick to the corner, but were unable to secure their own lineout. The Sooners inability to capitalize on their opportunities frustrated them and they lost focus on a few occasions allowing A&M to escape the pressure without the Sooners scoring any points in the first 25 minutes of the second despite spending the majority of that time in the A&M half. On one of A&M’s forays into the Sooners half OU looked as though they were going to repel the Aggies, but a veteran play from one of the Aggies forwards allowed him to sneak in the try zone to dot down despite the Sooners being in position to defend the pic and go attack. After that score seemed to put the game out of reach the Sooners started flinging the ball around more freely and were rewarded with a try from wing Heath Thompson. Replacement 2nd row Matt Long benefitted from his high school teammate Bobby Impson’s very nice line break which allowed Long to touch down in the corner. Long and Impson both came off the bench for the Sooners and are promising freshmen recruits from Jenks High School. The Sooners looked poised to score their 4th try of the game which would have given them two bonus points one for 4 trys and one for losing by less than 7 points, but it wasn’t to be. The Sooners inability to secure their own set piece possession ultimately cost them an opportunity at winning the match.
This weekend the Sooners will rest a few players in the annual Varsity Alumni Match allowing some of the newer players to get some much needed game time. The Sooners will then take a few days off for Spring Break before meeting back on campus Wednesday the 16th to get additional practice time in before the first home game. The Sooners will be thoroughly tested in there first home match as they take on Arkansas State who made an appearance in the Final Four last year and played the Cal Bears tough. The Sooners did play with great effort against A&M and did not quit, they will look to build on that over the next two weeks in preparation for the Arkansas State clash.
Please come support the Sooners this Saturday at high noon as they take on the Alumni and Saturday March 26th for their first home game of the Inaugural College Premier Division.