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Written by Pat Clifton    Saturday, 21 May 2011 20:45    PDF Print Write e-mail
Olympic Club Too Much for Dallas
Clubs - Men's DI Clubs

Olympic Club handled their business against Dallas in the first DI Round of 16 game Saturday in Chula Vista, Calif, never trailing the Reds in their 33-5 victory.

Dallas had the first chance to put points on the board, when fullback Matt Rawle took a shot at the posts, but the attempt was unsuccessful. O-Club flyhalf Keegan Engelbrecht missed his first shot at goal shortly thereafter.

The stalemate was broken by Olympic Club prop Darrell Honaver, who capped off a series of pick-and-gos following a Dallas penalty and successful O-Club five-meter lineout. Engelbrecht hit the conversion.

Dallas responded less than a minute later after an O-Club penalty put the Reds in a similar scoring position with a point-blank lineout. Dallas won their lineout and took a couple slow balls before spinning it wide for the score. Rawle's conversion was missed.

O-Club and Dallas grappled for the next five minutes, and O-Club utilized Engelbrecht's boot and some quality slow ball to gain territorial advantage.
Dallas turned them San Francisco club over deep in their own end, but a knock gave O-Club a five-meter scrum, during which the Reds were blown for a freekick infringement.

O-Club No. 8 Rikus Pretrious quick-tapped and dove in for a try that would trigger a 12-0 O-Club run to end the first half, putting the NorCal champs up 19-5 at intermission. 10 of those points were scored by Pretorius, who bagged his second try just seven minutes later.

The second half was all O-Club, as they poured in 14 points, while pitching a shutout. O-Club's tight offensive attack in the first quarter of the game allowed them to open things up later on, leading to the impressive finish.

'We talked about that for Dallas," said O-Club coach Ray Lehner. "We thought they liked to fan out their defense quite a bit, and we wanted to be active around the ruck to try and open up their defense a little bit for later in the game."

Olympic Club managed to hold out some players who'll factor heavily in Sunday's quarterfinal against the Sacramento Lions, including former Eagle Kort Schubert.

O-Club
Tries: Pretorius (2), Honaver, Houghton, Golding
Cons: Engelbrecht (3), Galicz

Dallas
Tries: Chad Joseph

 
Written by Jackie Finlan    Saturday, 21 May 2011 20:45    PDF Print Write e-mail
Krewe Forwards Crush Middlesex at DII Nationals
Clubs - Men's DII Clubs

Manassas, VA - Although Middlesex put a valiant effort against defending DII champion during today’s Round of 16, Tampa Krewe’s forwards wore down the Massachusetts’ defense for a final 41-17 win.

alt
Tampe Krewe forwards dominated during DII's Round of 16.

“I’m anal retentive,” Tampa Krewe coach Dai Morgan smiled, “so my initial thought is that we didn’t play as well as we could have. But to win 41-17 in the Sweet 16 is fantastic. In hindsight, I should give credit where credit is due, and Middlesex did well for 60 minutes, getting in our way and screwing things up for us as good teams do. We couldn’t get in our groove. But following that, I’m pretty happy with today’s performance.”

All of Tampa’s tries came through the forwards and it became evident early on that Middlesex was going to have its hands full in tight. Flanker Leslie Mongo finished off two forward drives near the line, accounting for two of his four tries on the day.

But with about 10 minutes to go in the half, Middlesex mounted a lengthy goal-line attack, with Tampa penalties allowing the team to repeat its attempts at the try line. The effort finally paid off and Middlesex’s inside center dotted down for the try, 10-7. Middlesex took the lead with time winding down, turning another sustained goal-line stand into seven points, utilizing its speedy outside backs to get around the defense, 14-10 Middlesex into the break.

“We took our foot off the gas and let in what I have to call soft tries,” Morgan said. “All credit to Middlesex – I thought they’d be tired – and they caught us by surprise. At the half, we talked about eliminating those mental errors, not forcing the game, and playing to our strengths.”

“In the first half, we tried to go wide too early, and that wasn’t the game to play against Middlesex,” Morgan added. “They had some quality athletes in the backs and tackled well. We’re not used to getting tackled, so we had to play from behind. We’re used to front-foot ball. Once we sorted that out and didn’t try to play from our own line, we got comfortable and did well.”

Tampa came out furiously in the second stanza but was more controlled. Tampa relies on mismatches, whether it’s big guys running at little guys, or fast players taking on slower ones. Once the team relied on its big players to continually batter Middlesex, the physical toll saw Middlesex fall off tackles and opened up some gaps through the tries flowed.

To add to the fatigue, Tampa’s deep bench saw Andre Beukes, Dylan Richards and Alexandre Pellicier sub in for the pack, and their fresh legs further demoralized Middlesex’s scramble defense.

As if Chicago Blaze – Tampa’s quarterfinal opponent tomorrow – doesn’t have enough to worry about up front, they should be concerned that Tampa didn’t start a number of its star players, who will rejuvenate the squad for the final four bid.

 
Written by Jackie Finlan    Saturday, 21 May 2011 20:11    PDF Print Write e-mail
'Cuse Downs Cincinnati in DIII Round of 16
Clubs - Men's DII Clubs

Manassas, VA - In the Men’s DIII Championship, #8 seed Syracuse knocked off top seed Cincinnati Kelts 37-16, but the win wasn't the blowout that the score suggests, at least not at the half.

The first 40 minutes was marked by penalties and kept the score tight at 15-9 to ‘Cuse.

“We had a lot of little mistakes, not rolling away from the tackle, diving over the ball a bit,” Syracuse player/coach Stephen Heywood said. “And we weren’t getting possession in first phase initially, making basic errors which handed Cincinnati the ball.”

The turning point occurred with 10 minutes left in the first half, when Syracuse scored a try and opened their eyes to the direction of the game.

“We realized that we were getting sucked in and playing at the opposition’s pace and at their level,” Heywood explained. “We worked it out around the park, started to play our game instead of being ruled by the occasion. At the half, we talked about basic stuff and away we went, nice and easy.”

The superb work of the halfbacks pushed Syracuse onward. Syracuse’s scrumhalf made some great decisions, kicking ahead when on the back foot and enabling some go-forward ball when the fringe went unprotected.

“Our flyhalf, Jeff Devennie, had a great game,” Heywood commended as well. “He broke the line on a couple of occasions and took advantage of an up-quick defense and set up the overlap. That’s when we were able to run the tries in. It was great decision-making on his part.”

Syracuse’s fitness took centerstage as the game progressed, and the team was much more proactive than Cincinnati with ball in hand. The team created a lot more opportunity, which resulted in another 17 points, while the defense held Cincinnati to a try.

Syracuse now moves on to play Virginia, which outlasted Bragg 25-22 today, in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

 
Written by Alex Goff    Saturday, 21 May 2011 20:10    PDF Print Write e-mail
Highland Sends Gelwix Off in Style
School Age - Boys
Dobson Images
Dobson Images

Highland Rugby’s players finished off the script mapped out by everyone.

Larry Gelwix, honored with a dinner Friday night in recognition of this being his last game as coach after 36 years, saw Highland rugby claim their 20th national championship, and Gelwix’s 410th victory against ten (that’s 10) losses.

Highland overcame some early-game jitters and a determined United team to avenge last year’s finals loss, and defeat United 38-24 in the National U19 Championship.

Early on Highland looked anything but a championship team, as they dropped balls, missed tackles, and made poor decisions as Untied tested them with probing kicks and some smart running.

United got on the board first, punishing some Highland errors and pressing their advantage. Flanker Thayne Soloai went over to give his team a 7-0 lead.

Highland looked shocked and for the next 20 minutes players as if they had to score three tries right this very second. It of course, didn’t work out that way, and the Black Planet became increasingly frustrated. But eventually both teams settled down. And at 31 minutes inside center Josh Faagalu broke through and set up an attack that ended with fullback Jayce Hansen scoring. Moments later, Hansen was over again, and suddenly, just before halftime, it was 12-7 Highland.

In the second half, Highland punished a silly United error to get a turnover and center Antonio Lavemai went in under the posts. Jakobi Harris’s second conversion put his side up 19-7.

So it looked as if Highland would roll. Faagalu was catching passes now, and the massive, fleet-footed center was a handful as a result. But United struck right back. Russ Parai hit a penalty, and then exciting local product Kisi Unufe jumping in front of a pass and taking it all the way in for a huge try. Parai hit the conversion and it was 19-17.

United continued to try to control the game by kicking and forcing Highland to run a long way to score. For the most part it worked, but all that chasing wore down the United team. Gaps started to show, and to maintain their defensive line United stopped defending rucks. Highland saw that and simply ran their forwards up the middle, making big gains, and setting up a try for No. 8 Doug Ferris from an eightman pick.

Up 24-17 Highland began to relax, and it was United that felt the tension.  Faagalu lumbered in for a try that again appeared to put the match away, 31-17. But United struck once more, with the exciting Unufe slicing through the Highland D as if they were nothing. 31-24. Finally Lavemai put the game away to stay.

It capped perhaps the end of an era, as Gelwix leaves Highland to be president of a Mormon Mission in Fresno, Calif. and U19 rugby looks likely to change dramatically. In the end the Highland players did what they had to do to finish the story right.

Highland 38
Tries: Hansen 2, Lavemai 2, Ferris, Faagalu
Convs: Harris 4

United 24
Tries: Soloai, Unufe 2
Convs: Parai 3
Pens: Parai

 
Written by Jackie Finlan    Saturday, 21 May 2011 19:28    PDF Print Write e-mail
Palmer Grinds Out Win Over PAC
Clubs - Men's DI Clubs

Manassas, VA, was treated to a barn-burner of a match for the first game of DI Men's Club Championship. After 40 minutes, it was anyone's guess who'd come out on top between Palmer College and Potomac AC, as the two stood deadlocked at the half, but Palmer ran in one extra try for the 33-24 win and bid to the quarterfinals.

"PAC was our toughest opposition all season, and we were a little jittery coming in," Palmer player/coach Chad London said. "We've had a scattered spring to build up to this, but we were here last year and came out with all we had. This isn't a peak performance - it's a building phase - but we can only move up from here and still have a lot to learn."

PAC had solid possession in the first half, and eight minutes in took the first 7-0 lead. London did well to even it up when a turnover ball allowed the Canadian-born flyhalf to run it in under the post and convert his own score, 7-7.

PAC then took its last lead of the game, turning what should have been another Palmer score, thanks to a pretty box kick to the try line. PAC stole the subsequent scrum and mounted an attack in Palmer's end. Another scrum awarded PAC a penalty, which PAC tapped and dove over the line. After a quick conference with the line judge, PAC took was awarded the five-pointer and eventual conversion, 14-7.

"The forwards were a lot bigger and more experienced than us," London said. "They dropped down from the Super League, so they had some years on us in the front row. But we have a lot of grit and heart, so against that opposition, it eventually worked in our favor."

Palmer didn't waste any time evening the score up. From the kickoff, PAC was awarded a lineout in its own half but botched the throw-in. Palmer #8 advanced the ball up the belly, hit the outside center, who broke through the line. From there, a two-on-one allowed fullback Jarod Selby to dot down. London handled the extras for the 14-all tie into the half.

"We were optimistic going into the second half," London reflected on the midway chat with the team. "We knew we had the upper-hand even though it was tied. We told the boys it was 0-0, and that we had the wind in the second half. We're a younger squad, very fit, and we get around the field a lot more, so we used that to our advantage."

The teams traded two tries apiece to get the third quarter going, with Palmer's extra conversion giving the team a 26-24 lead. Palmer's cushion came from a scrum deep in PAC's end, with big inside center Mike Junk rumbling through the line and dragging defenders with him. Flanker James Fitzgerald picked up where Junker left off and crashed through the line for the try. With London's conversion, Palmer held onto the 33-24 to the whistle.

"I can't say there was a turning point since we were so evenly matched," London said. "We scored right in the second half, so that went in our favor, but then PAC got the intercept try and turned it around. We gradually built up momentum in the second half."

PAC's 24 points, however, is testament to the team's offensive aptitude, although London was relatively pleased with his side's defensive effort. "We can always do better," London said of the defense, "but the boys did well and put their bodies on the line. With 10 minutes left in the game, we were on our five meter line and the boys held up. We had a couple of good stands."

London was particularly pleased with the team's effort, but pointed out Junk and Fitzgerald as playmakers. London and Selby had two tries apiece, and embodied the excellent speed of the backs.

"We have a lot of great individuals," London said, "and we have a lot of weapons. As long as we use them well, we'll do fine."

With the win, Palmer College will face Mystic River in tomorrow's quarterfinal.

 


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