Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Monday, 07 April 2014 19:43    PDF Print Write e-mail
Herriman Holds Off Highland
School Age - Boys

The Herriman Mustangs triumphed in a spirited contest over Highland in Utah HS action at Sugarhouse Park on Saturday.
Although this was the first ever meeting between the two teams, their respective staffs are very familiar with each other. Herriman's Director of Rugby, Jeff Wilson, is a Highland alum and was a Highland assistant for ten seasons. Herriman boasts four other ex-Highland Rugby players on its staff, including Head Coach Derek Smith.

The current, year-and-a-half-old incarnation of Highland, now a single school team, is coached by Mark Numbers, a former Highland teammate of three of the Herriman coaches, as well as fellow Highland alums Kory Olsen and Dan Berg.
Both teams came in to the game undefeated in league play and the pre-game expectations of an exciting contest came to fruition. Both teams were a bit shorthanded in the affair, with Herriman missing U17 All-Americans Sione Bloomfield and Kalisi Moli who were on their way to Europe, and four-year staring hooker Beau Bequette with injury.

Highland was down a starter each in the pack and the backline as well. Playing on their home field, Highland struck almost immediately in the first five minutes of the game. Talented flyhalf Matt Miner put a kick over the Herriman back three and got them scrambling, and all the Mustangs were able to muster was a rushed kick back from fullback Colin Snow. The kick was fielded by John Cameron of Highland, who sidestepped Snow's tackle attempt and showed a great burst through a gap in the Mustang defense for a try between the posts. Miner converted for a quick 7-0 lead. Herriman was quick to respond, moving the ball down the field off of the kickoff with some timely running and a couple of Highland penalties at the breakdown. After kicking for touch down to 5m out from the line, the Mustangs tried a driving maul that was well defended by Highland. Highland was equal to the task against pick and jam attempts, and referee Sam Madsen whistled a potential score held up, 5m scrum to Herriman. The ball would go out to the backs and find Sophomore inside center Tomasi Tonga, who lowered his shoulder and knocked the Highland fullback to the ground before offloading to Flyhalf Jordan Marrott for a try. Marrott’s presence was welcome, as the junior captain returned from a two-game absence after a bout with Mononucleosis. The conversion was missed and Highland clung to a 7-5 lead.

The game turned a bit sloppy after this, with both teams feeling each other out and making gains, but not able to string together consistent phase play against each squad’s stellar defense. Miner continued to test the Mustangs with kicks, but replacement fullback Dom Miranda provided nice cover, and Highland wing Justise Jones had several nice gains for the hosts but at times was lacking support. Herriman spent a good deal of the half camped down in the Highland end but wasted opportunity time and again by not making the extra pass, getting held up in a maul, and getting pushed out of bounds on a few occasions. Flanker Vuni Bloomfield and wings Daniel Osornio and Brig Rush were the primary penetrators, but little was shown for the efforts. Finally, the Mustangs did put a score on the board, as Marrot ran wide from 15m out and drew in the opposing wing, then deftly passed to Osornio for the score in the corner. The tough conversion was missed, and after more sloppy offense and great defense by both sides, the half drew to a close with Herriman holding on to a 10-7 lead.

With both squads certainly unhappy over the inconsistent play of their teams, the second half began with renewed vigor and intent to execute. Herriman was penalized early and the tandem of Miner and scrumhalf Elliot McDaniel moved the ball down the field, kicking to touch for a lineout deep in Herriman territory. Looking back, the ensuing lineout may have been the turning point in the game. Highland was poised to score and attempted a driving maul, but the Herriman forwards, led by prop Irvin Medina-Garcia, bound in tight and drove the Highland maul out of bounds. It would be quite a while before Highland made another promising threat to score, as Herriman controlled the game for the next 20 minutes. Reserve center Niua Mahe made several physical runs through the arm tackles of Highland’s defense, and Osornio continued to make things difficult on the outside. Highland’s defense once again stiffened up near the goal, but were pinged several times and, after a few warnings, Herriman was given a penalty try when Highland was offside at a ruck from 1m out and wrapped up Herriman scrumhalf Dallin Abbott before he could get a handle on the ball. Abbott was true on the conversion and the lead was double digits, 17-7.

Bloomfield, Marrott, and Mahe continued to put Herriman right back on the attack after the kickoff, as the pace of play was noticeably increased in the second half, showing a high level of fitness. A Herriman knock on would only thwart things briefly, as a stolen scrum and a free kick would give the Mustangs a tap which was taken by Abbott and spun out to the backs. Sophomore wing Brig Rush would make a nice, spinning run down close and Marrott was Johnny on the spot, picking the ball before a ruck could form and weaving in for a try from about 10m out. The sideline conversion was just off from the posts, and the lead increased to 22-7.
Thirsty for more, Herriman once again went on the attack from the kickoff, quickly moving the ball down the field with Marrott, Mahe, and senior captain and 8-man Misi Tonga. Another well taken tap by Marrott found him down near the goal line and throwing what looked to be an ill-advised pass high and outside, but Rush came to the rescue, snatching it out of midair and diving over in the corner for another score. The far conversion was again well struck but just off the mark, and in the span of less than 10 minutes the score had increased 17 points to 27-7.

With about 10 minutes to go in the contest, Herriman began subbing and Highland took advantage behind Miner, who put a booming kick deep in to the Herriman and then ran the ball near the try line. David Ika would put down the ball from the ruck for an unconverted Highland try and some much needed momentum, 27-12. A short Herriman kickoff gave Highland a middle scrum, and a stolen feed was pounced on by McDaniel, putting Herriman on the back foot, but the Highland backs were victims of some mishandled balls and turned the scoring opportunity over. A big run by Cameron off of a scrum would put Highland back in attacking position, however, and the ball came out to senior Fonomanu Sekona, who exploited a gap in the Herriman defense and raced 50m for a score. The conversion by Miner was good at the final whistle, 27-19.

Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Monday, 07 April 2014 14:46    PDF Print Write e-mail
Santa Monica U18s Keep Winning
School Age - Boys

Saturday's U18s boys game between Santa Monica and Los Angeles was a terrific spectacle of enthralling rugby played on a sunny day in Palos Verdes, home of LARC.

Undefeated Santa Monica were caught by surprise within the first three minutes when their scrum was pushed back. LA quickly cleared the ball to score out wide for an easy try.

Santa Monica center Evan Clark replied a few minutes later, dancing through several would-be tackles to reduce the deficit to two points in favor.

LARC dominated possession in this first half with the strong wind at their back and completely stifled the Santa Monica attack. Constant infringements by Santa Monica didn't help, but they defended well and the halftime score was 7-5 for LA.

A nice try from LA No. 8 four minutes after the break enabled LA to draw further ahead 14-5, and it looked like the dark clouds had truly set in for the visitors. However, with a gusty wind at their back, enabling Walsh to kick deep into LA territory, Santa Monica replied with a series of phases. Santa Monica No. 8 Conor Lydon drew in several defenders and then prop Benny Gonda bulldozed his way over to make it 14-12.

A few minutes later the momentum was firmly in favor of the visitors. Santa Monica started gaining more ball and Gonda was on hand again, this time taking a sweet pass from ubiquitous hooker Willie Hock. Alex Walsh converted both tries and it was game on with 10 minutes to go and 19-14 in favor of Santa Monica. Walsh, the captain, sealed the game, breaking the hearts of LA when he ran through five defenders to score beside the uprights. This was followed by another breakaway try from Walsh.

Not to be outdone, the lads from LARC fought on, only to see any hopes of coming back being dashed when center Parker made a fine interception and ran 55 meters from midfield to score a copybook try. That made the score 34—14 to Santa Monica with five minutes to go. Los Angeles scored in the final few minutes but Santa Monica finished with a penalty from Walsh to make it 37-21 for Santa Monica.
Written by Alex Goff    Sunday, 06 April 2014 13:26    PDF Print Write e-mail
Shaw Wins Lousiana HS Title
School Age - Boys

Archbishop Shaw defeated Brother Martin 47-22 Saturday to win the Rugby Louisiana boys HS title.

Brother Martin fought hard in a tough game and while they fell behind early they clawed their way back into the match. Shaw's defense, however, was too strong and their hard running on offense was hard to contrain.

Shaw led 35-0 at halftime. Brother Martin picked it up in the second half.

Shaw flyhalf Cameron Troxler was named MVP of the game after scoring four tries and playing excellent rugby in other areas.

Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Saturday, 05 April 2014 01:15    PDF Print Write e-mail
Snow Canyon Shocks Mustangs in San Diego
School Age - Boys

San Diego – The RUGBYMag #4-ranked HS club, the San Diego Mustangs, lost 17-7 to the touring Snow Canyon team from Utah, ranked #13 among single-school teams.

The Mustangs went into this game having won their previous three games by scores of 48-15, 88-5, and 99-7.  They were looking for some competition, and got it.

The well-travelled Warriors from Snow Canyon High School in St. George, Utah bused 12 hours south for a match, and stunned the San Diego squad by coming back from a 7-0 second-half deficit to win 17-7.

Snow Canyon kicked off the evening with a well-choreographed Hakka.  The teams then duked it out between the 40-yard lines of Torrey Pines High School’s football stadium.  They traded missed penalty kicks, and each team had a great defensive effort to turn back a threat.  Mustang fullback Adam Wilson used his extraordinary speed to knock a Warrior center into touch just before the tryline to prevent a try.

Snow Canyon prop Robert Schwenke used his 6’-3, 275-lb frame to good effect early, but the Mustangs’ 6-3, 285-lb prop Aaron Mitchell kept the Warrior pack honest, and ignited his team with several bruising runs.  San Diego was missing four starters from its backline, but the two sides seemed evenly matched as neither could break out or gain numbers on the outside. The first half ended, 0-0.

The Mustangs changed tactics to start the second half.  After regaining the ball after kickoff (thanks to an extremely rare Snow Canyon flub), the San Diego team pounded the ball up the middle, before flicking it out to wing Devin Slubowski for a try near the corner.  Flyhalf Alec Mills made the difficult kick to put San Diego up, 7-0.

But, barely a minute later, Warriors flyhalf Connor Parry put the ball down in try. The kick was wide, and things stood at, 7-5, San Diego.

Playing at home, and with access to its deep U18 and U16 roster, the Mustangs flooded the backline with fresh legs, replacing both centers. The tactic seemed to work initially, but Snow Canyon used superior tactical kicking to relieve pressure and get the ball downfield.  Schwenke finally broke over 25 minutes into the half to put the Warriors up, 10-7.

With the Mustangs pressing and gambling as time wound down, Snow Canyon used some more tactical kicking to break the San Diego line, and open a seam for Parry, who scored his second try of the match.  Adam Wilson’s point-blank drop kick was good to make the final score, 17-7, Snow Canyon.

Snow Canyon were virtually mistake-free, and that was the difference, along with the fact that the Mustangs were missing some key players because they needed the rest. Still it was an impressive showing by both teams, with the tourists from Utah bagging a notable road victory against a ranked team.

Written by Alex Goff    Friday, 04 April 2014 14:50    PDF Print Write e-mail
Shaw Faces Brother Martin for New Orleans HS Title
School Age - Boys

The New Orleans High School title will be up for grabs Saturday as undefeated Archbishop Shaw takes on 6-1-1 Brother Martin in the league's championship game.

Shaw defeated New Orleans Jesuit on Wednesday 21-7 to make the final, while Brother Martin beat Mississippi 42-10 in one of their most impressive showings of the season in their semi on Wednesday.

Martin has had to work for their #2 spot in the league, having tied Jesuit, and beating Audubon by the slim margin of 7-5. The only game they lost, however, was to Shaw, 18-0 on March 13.

Led by co-captains Vincent Duhe (prop), and Connor Glennon (flyhalf), Brother Martin has continued to improve. Glennon scored four tries against Mississippi in the semi. Meanwyile, Matthew Reineke has been very solid as a flanker or lock, while the success of the backs owes much to the play of center Nick Williams and fullback Bruce Cuccia.

Meanwhile Shaw has played well thanks in part to an outstanding scrumhalf-flyhalf hinge in Brennan Falcon and Cameron Troxler. The two have played side-by-side for several years and are the leaders on the field.

Shaw's coaches push the importance of an organized, aggressive defense, and in seven games average about six points - half of those from Jesuit on March 29 in a league game that had no bearing on Shaw's 1st-place position.

"Our players have bought into this mentality on defense and we are extremely proud of their physicality," said assistant coach Jarrett Falcon. "We have also improved our rucking and fitness, allowing us to better maintain possession and run our pattern of play more effectively."

This game will drop the curtain on a big day of rugby in New Orleans, as before then the key Men's DI clash between New Orleans and Dallas will be played.

Both Brother Martin and Shaw have already qualified to represent La in the South High School Championships in Charlotte NC on May 3-4.


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