The University of Rhode Island men’s rugby team will look to avenge last week’s 27-25 loss against the University of Vermont on Saturday to claim first place in their conference.

The Rams lost last week on a last-play penalty kick that gave Vermont the win, and URI’s first defeat on the season.

“We played really well,” Rhode Island team captain Andrew Riotte said.  “We dominated them physically and really moved the ball well. Penalties just killed us.”

Riotte said the game was lost in the last 15-20 minutes, when the team focus was lost and the penalties piled up.  Vermont’s 27 points is the most scored by any of URI’s opponents this year.

While Rhode Island leads the New England Collegiate Rugby Conference in points scored with 185, Vermont leads the conference in points against, allowing just 86 on the year.  Vermont’s total is equal to about 14 points allowed a game, while Rhode Island is closer to 19.

“We’ve been working at practice on a lot of the things that really cost us, like offsides penalties,” Riotte said.  “We’re cleaning that up really well.  That’s all we need to change because we did dominate them physically and won almost every scrum and lineup.  Our set pieces were fine.  It was just the mental errors we need to change and I think we’ve done a good job on that so far. I highly anticipate and expect us to win this week.”

The way the standings work is a team will receive three points for a win and one point if they score more than three goals.  With Vermont being up by two points in the standings, a win would most likely be enough to claim first place in the conference, unless Vermont records more than three scores.

After Saturday’s game, URI will have just three games left of the regular season before the regional playoffs.  Last year, the team lost to Coast Guard in the NECRC Championship game after an undefeated regular season.