Belmont improve to 4-1 (2-1) with win over Xaverian High School
Belmont High School Rugby improved to 4-1 (2-1) on the season with an impressive, gutsy, gritty win over Xaverian Brothers High School. Avenging a sound thumping at the hands of Xaverian last year, Belmont put themselves in a position to secure one of the top 4 spots in Division 1 and a place in the semi-finals. They will need to play well and beat Boston College High School and Marshfield to have home field advantage, however.
The conditions were ideal for the kind of running rugby Belmont look to play, and coming out quickly the home side was testing a Xaverian defense that plays solidly. Early jitters and haste allowed Xaverian to keep pace with the speedy backs. Knock ons and fumbles could have proved very costly if not for Belmont’s strong defensive structure.
The first night’s score was by 8-man Barrett Lyons, who rumbled through and past a handful of Xaverian defenders. Missing the conversion, Belmont was up 5-0. Xaverian responded quickly as the restart was sent deep into Belmont’s own end. Belmont seemed surprised by this tactic and tossed the ball around a bit too much. Xaverian capitilized and scored the equalizer. Their conversion went wide and the match was tied up 5-5 at half time.
Realizing that they were playing solid rugby, just not executing, Belmont refocused on simple rugby. Allowing the mobile forward pack to run around, scrumhalf Sam Tommy darted and probed. Debutante Christian Cahoon took the ball on effectively, as did front row stalwarts Pat O’Connor & Jon Comeau.
Once again, senior 7 Craig Janjigian proved to be a ferocious defender and stopped numerous Xaverian players in their tracks.
As the 2nd half rolled on Belmont struggled to clear it’s own offensive zone. A charged down kick resulted in a Xaverian try and their first lead. Their conversion went wide and they were up 10-5.
The backline attack was effective again as Nick Pearson & Alec Lockett found gaps in the defensive line. Able to move ball quickly Pearson scored the 2nd try for the homeside. With Junior Toussaint’s conversion, Belmont was up 12-10.
Belmont regained some steam and began to ruck very effectively. Ball was available often for Tommy who moved it to Toussaint. The senior flyhalf found a hole and beat a few defenders to put Belmont up 17-10. Hitting his own conversion the lead was now 19-5.
Defense was needed even more as Xaverian used effective forwards and strong attack lines to punch the ball downfield.
With less than 10 minutes to go, Xaverian scored again. Missing the conversion they were down 15-19.
It was frantic defense for Belmont, who had a player sent off for a dangerous tackle. Defending with 14 men for the last 9 minutes of the match, Belmont contested every breakdown, tackled low, held up ball often, and fought tooth & nail to defend their line.
It was a strong performance, despite errors and miscues. The win was needed and the momentum that the team will carry into the final 2 league games is crucial.
Men of the Match: Christian Cahoon & Alec Lockett
In a shortened 2nd side game, Belmont went down early to a strong pack of Xaverian forwards. The visitors were able to punch in 2 early tries to go up 10-0.
The home team was determined, however, and played much better rugby as the game progressed. They were able to use their backs effectively through the hands of Paul Campbell & Darren Chan leading the charge.
Peter Berens played effectively once again at fullback, but it was the presence of strong loose & 2nd row forwards that made the difference. Michael Oprian effectively fought off 3 defenders and muscled his way into the try zone. With the conversion Belmont was within three points, 7-10.
Matt Lundgren defended well from the 7 spot and it lead to costly penalties and turnovers from Xaverian. Getting the back to the back line sophomore Matt Wilk punched in the go ahead try. Chan kicked a master conversion from the sideline and Belmont was up 14-10.
With time winding down Xaverian mounted an impressive last minute march. Using their massive forwards – one weighing at 300+ pounds – they induced penalties and mistakes. They eventually punched in the winning try and the final whistle left the game 14-15 in favor of the visitors.
Men of the Match: Matt Lundgren & Michael Oprian & Peter Berens
Thanks to Dave Chan, as always, for another batch of great pictures!-->