In a pulsating game that was worthy of a SCRC Championship game it was the Volunteers of Tennessee who finally broke through to take the lead for the first time in the game as time expired and win the game with a 24-20 final score.

Kentucky thought it had taken an early lead when Jacob Goeppner broke through to cross under the posts but the try was disallowed for a forward pass in the build up. However, this did not deter the Wildcats as they were able to open the scoring in the 22nd minute thanks to an outstanding interception and dash for the line by Brendon Esson. Esson converted the kick to give the hosts a 7-0 lead.

Brendon Esson opened the scoring after an interception and break for the Tennessee line. (Photo by Dave Redden)

Kentucky extended the lead to 12-0 in the 29th minute as Dirk van den Berg was able to down the ball over the line out of a maul. Tennessee closed the gal just five minutes before halftime with a try of their own to leave the score at 12-5 at the break.

Five minutes into the second half and the scores were tied as the Volunteers scored a converted try. Kentucky rallied again and pushed hard for the breakthrough. The Wildcats regained the lead in the 47th minute thanks to an Esson penalty to make the score 15-12.

Three minutes later and the lead was extended to 20-12, again through a van den Berg try on the left flank. Kentucky looked to be in the driver’s seat but just could not find the score that would have put real daylight between them and the visitors.

Tucker Donlon works to find a hole in the Tennessee defense. (Photo by Dave Redden)

Tennessee continued to follow their game plan of driving through their forwards and were rewarded with a try in the 60th minute to close the gap to 20-17. Heartbreak was to follow for the Wildcats as the referee penalized them twice in quick succession in the dying seconds of the game. The two kicks for touch took the Volunteers almost 90 yards down the field and inside the Kentucky ten yard line. The Wildcats battled to keep the Vols at bay but it was not to be as the referee deemed the visitors to have crossed the line. The conversion was successful and time expired without the chance to kick off again.

In the “B” game the Wildcats were hoping to gain some revenge and maintain their unbeaten record but, that too was not to be. The hosts went down 30-27 in a game that went to and from from a scoring perspective. Kai Carlberg scored twice for the Wildcats while Jared Monnier and Dailen Ward also added tries. Kaiden Fothergill added a conversion and a penalty.

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