Belmont start 2015 campaign with convincing win over Bishop Hendricken

 

Wednesday April 1
Belmont, MA

Check out the match report from our friends at The Belmontian & media coverage from our friends at The Belmont Media Center. 

Like all New England spring sports Belmont rugby have had to adjust, adapt, and manage the historic snowfall all season. In their build up to the 2015 run Belmont have had limited outdoor time, which meant limited time to work on set pieces, tackling, and phase play.

The dust came off quickly as Belmont raced past Bishop Hendricken, 29-5, on a chilly Wednesday night in front of a large, supportive crowd.

In a rematch of the 2013 & 2014 state finals (won by Belmont & Bishop Hendricken, respectively) both teams looked to establish a dominate style of play and use their athleticism to control the pace. The first 15 minutes saw open play, fast ball movement, and dynamic, physical contests up and down the paddock.

Belmont threatened first, putting together consistent secure phase play until a loose pass led to a penalty. The visitors, taking the space, had an attacking lineout on the Belmont 10 meter line. Senior Peter Durkin, a basketball player, turned flyhalf, turned second row leapt deftly and stole the ball, protecting the home side line.

The physical breakdown continued as outside centre and Scottish import, Campbell McCready landed a textbook tackle. Senior flyhalf Paul Campbell was none too impressed and put one of his own in, establishing Belmont’s trademark style of blitz defense.

Belmont were able to defend and produce a turnover on the Bishop Hendricken 15 meter line in the center of the field. A secure ball was hooked by junior Lamarr Axell and the ball moved quickly from senior captain Darren Chan in the #9 jumper to Campbell who, with panache and cheek, chipped the ball over the defenders, retrieved it on the full and dotted down the try. His own conversion put the hosts up 7 points to 0.

Campbell had been nursing a bruised knee and the 7 pointer took a little wear on the joints While being attended Belmont continued to defend their end with pure moxie. The visitors regained steam and began to grind the hard yards out. The back and forth play continued until Belmont found themselves back in the defending state champions’ end. Senior flyhalf Campbell sliced through the defense and put the ball into the hands of debutante blind side flanker Marco Perrone who used the front foot play and, driven through by senior lock Nick Ryan, took the ball to paydirt. The conversion sailed low and Belmont were up 12 – 0.

Bishop Hendricken is a powerful, well coached team. They did not go quietly and, led by senior hooker Kyle Ciquerra, the Hawks began to punch in phases and yards. Some costly penalties & careless play against the hosts put the Rhode Islanders in an ideal scrum position. Belmont drove hard but the Hendricken #8 scooped the pill and darted past the arms of three Belmont defenders to put the Hawks on the board, 12-5.

Belmont sustained another blow as Perrone was yellow carded for repeated infringements in slowing down quick play.

The halftime whistle blew and Bishop Hendricken had regained the momentum and had the wind in their sails.

As the 2nd frame began Belmont were down to fourteen men for another eight minutes. Players stepped up and, right off the kickoff, Durkin did just that. Tackles were strong and physical as Ryan and senior eight-man Bryce Christian protected the Belmont line. Christian, who has worked tirelessly on his fitness and game, executed a perfect poach which lead to several phases. The ball moved deftly through the hands and back into Campbell’s who dotted down his 2nd try of the night. The conversion, this time taken by McCready, was true and Belmont began to pull away up 19 – 5.

The Belmont backline is laced with players who have been working together for three or four years. Their comfort with one another was clear as the ball, with strong running forwards  Deshawn Frederick, Omar Escobar and Jacob Hale contributing,  moved up and down the pitch until McCready worked through the defensive line and offloaded deftly to Campbell who mowed over the final Hawk’s defender and scored his third of the night, putting the score line at 24-5.

That seemed to mark a turning point for the Belmont backline, bolstered by crossover athletes Tom Martin and Norman Kilavatitu and returning players Swapnil Thapa, Luke Gallagher & Matt Wilk who all worked well together in the wing and fullback positions. The visitors continued to tackle with full commitment, but could only sustain the pressure for so long. Hendricken’s struggles continued when one of their loose forwards was yellow carded for repeated high tackles.

Belmont had one more chance to close the door on their guests, whom they had never defeated in the regular season, and Perrone, busy all night, scored his second try. The home side now up, 29-5.

With the final whistle Belmont moved to 2 wins and 0 losses on the season. They look to continue the positive as they travel to Needham High School for their second league game Wednesday the 8th.

Final Score Belmont 29 (12) Bishop Hendricken 5 (5)
Scorers
Belmont High School
Tries – Campbell 3, Perrone 2
Conversions – Campbell, McCready
Pens -
Cards – Perrone (33rd min, yellow), McCready (61st min, yellow)

Bishop Hendricken
Tries – 8-man
Conversions
Pens -
Cards – (55th min, yellow)

In a shortened 2nd XV game Belmont raced pass the visitors 15-0. Moving in lots of new players, who got their first taste of Belmont rugby, played admirably and well, making the mistakes they should make and taking the risks they should. Their athletic play was entertaining. In the #10 jumper Chilean import Luis Valenzuela lead the backline well, while his fellow expatriot Frechman Mateo Saint-Ournes controlled the forwards in the scrumhalf position.

Sophomores Isaiah Sealey & Nick Leland filled the midfield well in the 12 & 13 jerseys and had the coaches excited about the future. Forwards Eli Gullage and Vasko Nikolov did well to lead the pack and another crop of underclassmen, like Brendan Walsh & Josh Lessin, did well in the 2nd row.

For so many first time players, in so many new positions, the results exceeded the coaches’ expectations, further setting up the Club for continued success.

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