The touring Queensland Outback Barbarians had won their first two games of their Western USA tour by 127-0 and 83-0, so you can imagine they expected more of the same going into New Orleans.
However, the team was met by a New Orleans club lately stung by a home playoff loss, and made QOB pay to the tune of 13-7.
Bobby Johns scored the lone try for New Orleans and Jarrett Falcon kicked a conversion and two penalties for the victory.
Right wing Josh Papale of the Barbarians opened the scoring, running in under the posts in the 20th minute after receiving an inside ball from flyhalf and playmaker Phil Dersen. Derksen then added the extras to put the Barbarians ahead 7-0.
New Orleans matched the Barbarians at every turn and defended well. A similar backline move put Johns through for the equalizing try.
The score remained 7-7 at halftime.
The Barbarians got into all sorts of penalty trouble after that, and Falcon kicked enough to keep his team ahead 13-7.
As the clock ticked on the action grew increasingly intense. New Orleans made a spirited goal line stand and repelled a concerted Barbarians attack. The Barbarians proved just as tenacious in defense. A yellow card knocked them down a man, but just when they seemed poised to put the game completely out of reach, New Orleans started getting penalties.
"It is sometimes hard for touring teams to keep up the intensity when you have some generally easy games and everything around them is new," team manager Geoff Barton told the Queesnland Country Times. "The New Orleans game should really switch them on for the second half of the tour and particular for the May 10 match with Missoula in Montana. "I am sure we will see a whole new level of determination come out of these guys."
"It was a good match," said New Orleans Head Coach Jerry Malina. "I thought the guys competed well."
Next up for the Barbarians is a trip to the famed Missoula Maggotfest.
Old Puget Sound Beach travels to the Chicago Griffins Saturday in a key game for both.
The Griffins are not in playoff contention anymore, but can stake claim to a .500 record and perhaps a little scoreline payback with a victory in Chicago Saturday.
It’s Old Boy Day at the Griffin’s field, with former players coming back to see how the team is doing, and a high school curtain-raiser to boot.
The Fenwick High School team, coached by former Griffin Carl Dittmer, will take on Lake Forest HS, coached by fomer Griffin Eddie Giangiorgi.
The Griffins will also brace for a tough, physical battle with a team they tested heavily in Seattle in March. Chicago will be without lock forward Charlie Jacobsen, who hurt his hamstring in the final minutes of last week’s clash with SFGG.
But the Griffins still feature a formidable pack, with prop Tim Paulson, lock Graham Harriman and flanker Erik Jacobsen all having good seasons.
They face an Old Puget Sound pack that is perhaps underrated. Of those, rookie flanker Kellen Gordon has been very solid, getting involved in play and defending dependably.
“I think you see how well Kellen has done for OPSB, you see what a value was for us,” said Central Washington coach Tony Pacheco of the CWU product.
Meanwhile captain and prop forward Josh Osborne will relish a battle up front.
“Chicago gave us our most physical challenge so far this season,” Osborne told RUGBYMag.com. “We know this will be an even bigger physical test, playing in Chicago. What we have to do as forwards is focus on our jobs – get our backs good, clean ball and be there in support.”
OPSB is benefitting from a week off, one that sits perfectly in the middle of their season.
“Having three games on then a week off, and three more games, is perfect,” said Osborn. “We are able to get a little rest right when we need it. Guys were banged up a bit but we’re feeling good now.”
OPSB will be without flanker Andrew Durutalo, who is with the USA 7s team. But Tim Jacobsen is experienced and is an excellent replacement. They are also without Mike Palefau, also playing 7s. Therein lies another story – Beach’s first fullback of the season, Isimeli Daveta, was put out for the season against the Griffins. They managed to get Palefau in to replace the dynamic Daveta, and Palefau has been superb.
Now without Palefau, OPSB brings in former USA wing/fullback Jeremy Nash, another feisty runner who can play off the cuff.
Asked if there was any bad blood between the teams as the result of the Daveta injury, Osborn shook his head.
“We miss Isi, it was tough to lose him, but you can’t focus on stuff like that,” he said. “That would just throw us off our game. We’re just going to worry about our game plan and be as prepared as we can.”
There are lots of exciting matchups in this game in the backs. Emosa Vocago is a dynamic scrumhalf, but Cal Doggett is a tough defender and dependable #9 for Chicago. Flyhalf Roland Suniula has the ability to change the game for Chicago, but OPSB’s midfield of William Rasileka and Pate Tuilevuka can, too.
Chicago has two of the better wing pairings, especially in defense, in the league, in Brendan Brown and Pat Marek. But blink at the wrong time and Fili Botitu and Miles Craigwell will be by you and scoring.
This promises to be a thrilling match, and one both teams desperately want.
Deerpath Community Park, Lake Forest, Ill. Saturday Fenwick HS v Lake Forest HS 11:30am Old Puget Sound v. Chicago Griffins 2pm Fox Valley v Chicago Griffins (CARFU Cup) 3:30pm
BYU is certainly heavily-favored this weekend as they host the Bruins of UCLA in the D1-A Quarterfinals.
The Cougars have won all of their league games, including a 99-12 evisceration of Colorado that was indeed an indication of how well they are playing.
“Colorado was a solid team in a lot of areas,” said BYU Head Coach David Smyth. “I think we had our best game of the season. We wanted to establish some depth, but tactically I thought we played very well.”
Captain Ryan Roundy agreed.
“I thought it came together,” he told RUGBYMag.com. “We did a lot better holding onto the ball and not trying to force things. We didn’t give up dumb turnovers, we took it into contact when we needed to stayed on our feet when we could.”
So BYU is feeling strong. They have outstanding players. They beat St. Mary’s earlier this season in a friendly, a team that beat UCLA by a clear margin.
UCLA Head Coach Scott Stewart said last week he just wants his players to embrace the moment and keep competing. Everyone knows it will be hard.
But foregone conclusions have tripped up teams before.
“We’re not looking ahead to anyone, we’re concerned with playing this week against UCLA,” said Roundy. “Now that finals have ended we’ve started running every morning, putting in an extra session and going on two-a-days to up our fitness. We might pull back a little, but the intensity is up in practice, we know this is upping the ante. We have no more school stress weighing us down and we can just concentrate on this game – which is win or go home.”
Very simple. Roundy is a central figure for this BYU team. He leads the defensive intensity and has as good a turn of speed as any back-rower in the college game. With the front row punishing their opposition, and the center paring of Paul Lasika and Hoseki Kofe working well together, this is a team that has almost all the weapons.
Roundy says he feels better than he has all season. Nagging ankle injuries, a by-product of his broken ankle last summer, have gone, and he says the rest of the team is also feeling healthy, strong, and excited for what’s to come.
Two other key players are looking at the end of their five-year careers at BYU. Shaun Davies (who will return for fall 7s) and Dylkan Lubbe have been scrumhalf and flyhalf since 2008.
“We have been spoiled for four or five years with Shaun and Dylan at those positions,” said Smyth. “Yes it is sad to see them go, but we have some work to do. We have relied on them heavily.”
But you can’t get too sentimental. It’s about winning a rugby game, after all.
“We have no doubt about the road forward. It goes through UCLA, so we are concerned with that.”
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