Troop Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive and Roman Catholic Earns a Victory

Posted by Schuylkill River RFC on Mar 20 2019 at 01:54PM PDT

The weekend of March 16 and 17 was the first weekend of league play for our Troop (D3) and Exile (D1) sides as well as the start of Rugby PA’s spring 15s season. Troop took on Brandywine, the Exiles played Rocky Gorge, and the combined Narberth Otters/North Philly Nomads side went up against Roman Catholic in a match pitting many of our U-19 7s players against each other.

In a crucial match for Troop to keep their playoff hopes alive the guys came out a bit sluggish in the first half and faced a 10-3 halftime deficit against a talented Brandywine side before turning in a solid performance in the second half to escape with a 23-22 victory. Tries were scored by Jabari Johnson, Matt Hughes, and Jeff Hall with Ryan Tower adding 8 points with the boot.

After the match Coach Pearce-Williams awarded Man of the Match honors to Matt Hughes who was also voted man of the match by his teammates separately. Hughes earned multiple penalties poaching the ball in the first half and the match turned in our favor on a sequence in the second half where scrum half Ryan Tower made the gutsy, but ultimately correct, decision to quick tap from well inside our half and swing the ball to Hughes who put us on the front foot and eventually scored a try off of a quick tape of his own. Other strong performers included Matt Stringer who directed us from the backline, Jabari Johnson whose speed and physicality was difficult to match all over the field, Jeff Hall who was a stalwart on defense and in the set piece, and Aaron Jolcover whose toughness proved crucial for us throughout the day as he regularly took on Brandywine’s toughest player on both offense and defense.

After the match Coach Pearce-Williams stated that we “started slow, but committed to winning the contact situations in the second half. Playing our system properly and with discipline allowed us to get points on the board and it was enough to earn a victory thanks to a lucky break at the end.”

Tries: Jeff Hall (1), Matt Hughes (1), Jabari Johnson (1)
Cons: Tower (1)
Pens: Tower (2)

The Exiles looked to keep the momentum going in the second match of the day by racing out to a 19-3 lead against Rocky Gorge and holding a 19-17 lead at halftime thanks to tries from Jimmy Wolfer, Brian Keown, and Sean Barnes. Unfortunately a few of the Exiles’ starters had to be removed from the match due to injury and Rocky Gorge’s depth was the difference as Gorge scored the final 35 points of the match to earn a 38-19 victory.

Sean Barnes earned man of the match honors from Coach Burch, as well as his teammates, for his blend of speed and physicality in the backline and Coach Burch was also impressed with the performances we got from the elusive Graham Johnston, the physical Tyler Kelley and the ageless Randy Helsman. The Exiles won’t be dwelling on the loss for long since an extremely talented Norfolk Blues side is travelling to play us this weekend and we’ll need to be solely focused on the next match.

Following this match Coach Burch told me that "we had a strong start working our system and controlling field position but the depth of our squad was tested in the second half due to some injuries and the strength of Gorge’s team from top to bottom was too much to overcome. We need to maintain a ‘next man up’ mentality and stay focused in our system for 80 minutes.

Tries: Sean Barnes (1), Brian Keown (1), Jimmy Wolfer (1)
Cons: Keown (2)

In Sunday’s high school match the Narberth Otters and North Philly Nomads came together for the first time as a combined side and took on a talented Roman Catholic team. It was a great opportunity for many brand new players to try out the sport of rugby and Roman Catholic ended up winning the match 27-12 in large part due to their experience playing together and by limiting their mistakes.

For the Nomads 8Man Ifeyan Gavin was named Nomad of the match and he did a great job running the ball with power and speed, as well as coming up strong and finishing his tackles. Tries for the Nomads were scored by Gavin, and team captain Nas Epps who played a solid match from the flanker position and showed strong leadership qualities throughout the day. Fly half Phil Gatti added a conversion kick.

Following the match Coach Brunson called it a “tough loss to a great group of young men that play for Roman. We’ve gotten to know them on a personal level over the past few weeks and it was nice to see them progress as a team. I’m proud of the effort our Nomads gave on the field this afternoon. We had 9 young men play their first rugby game today. As we gain experience as teammates and rugby players, the final results will start to be in our favor.”

On the Roman side the Dalessandro’s Steaks Forward of the Match was Davonne Hudson, the Chubby’s Steaks Back of the Match was James Kuneck, the Septa Hit of the Match went to Colin Meissler and the Henry James Man of the Match was Claudio Hassan. Coach Koniecki informed us that he was “very proud of the boys for fighting hard and playing composed. We are looking forward to a strong week of practice as we get ready to travel to Elizabethtown.”

Season Scoring Totals:
Tries: Jabari Johnson (4), John Hines Jr. (2), Dave Hilley (2), Matt Hughes (2), Michael Bacon (1), Justin Brown (1), James Brunson (1) Cody Bukowski (1), Ed Carter (1), Rich Casey (1), Jeff Hall (1) Dave Hockenberry (1), Ross McMonigle (1), Lake Paul (1), Tom Stenberg (1)
Cons: Ryan Tower (10)
Pens: Ryan Tower (6)

Tries: Sean Barnes (5), Randy Helsman (4), Brian Keown (4), Dan Deal (3), Matt Henderson (3), Joe Midwig (2), Pat Boyle (1), Lucas Brickley (1), Matt Chiaramonte (1), Jeff Hall (1), Dante Jacquet (1) Jabari Johnson (1), Austin Lucas (1), Ricky Schneider (1), Brad Volm (1) Jimmy Wolfer (2)
Cons: Keown (18)
Pens: Keown (8)

Tries: Nas Epps (1), Ifeyan Gavin (1)
Cons: Phil Gatti (1),

Roman Catholic:
Tries: Davonne Hudson (2), Claudio Hassan (1), James Kuneck (1), John Stermel (1),
Cons: Stermel (1),


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