Saturday, February 21, 2015

Strake breaks St Thomas' streak

Grant Guthrie tackles a Jesuit player following one of the many turnovers committed by both teams.
By Peter Scamardo, STHS
20 February 2015

Bellaire, TX - Saint Thomas and Strake Jesuit are two of the bitterest rivals in the entire state. The two largest all boy catholic private schools in the city of Houston have a rivalry that encompasses every sport the two schools have to offer. On the rugby pitch the Crusaders of Strake Jesuit have always been the lesser opponent in the rivalry between the two schools, this past Friday that image changed.

In an ugly affair full of penalties and turnovers, Strake Jesuit pulled out a victory against the Saint Thomas Eagles by the score of 35-20. Their first ever in the series.

The No. 3 ranked Eagles were not going to go down easily though. They came out in the second half with a sense of urgency in them. Hard running by the forwards and good ball movement from the backline allowed Saint Thomas to score fifteen straight points and bring the score 28-20 in favor of Strake Jesuit. But a turnover on the ensuing kickoff led to Jesuit driving the ball down the field, giving the game its final score.
Payton Pardee's hard runs were crucial as St. Thomas attempted their second half comeback.
Missed conversion kicks was something that haunted the Saint Thomas rugby team last year, two losses being attributed to such factor, and tonight it came back to haunt them. The Eagles missed every one of their conversion attempts, something that would have given them a little more breathing room in the games dying moments.

Both teams committed ugly turnovers in the matchup. Near the end, Saint Thomas turned the ball over on poor pass attempts and allowed Strake to run the clock out even further. Many times the Crusaders won the ball due to poor ruck attempts by the Eagles and gained valuable meters off of quick tap penalties when the Eagles were not set or could not come up fast enough to meet the rusher. 

The lack of communication on defense allowed Jesuit to put the ball in scoring position time and time again, and when Strake was on the defense they forced several knocks by the Eagles which allowed precious time to be spent scrummaging.

At the end of the day, a sloppy victory is still a victory, and for a team that a year ago had completely disbanded this is a big one. For the Eagles, this is a bad loss and will certainly hurt them in the rankings. They will have a stiff contest next week when they host the North Division top seeded Dallas Jesuit in the Bishop’s Cup.
Riley Bishop attempts a conversion kick. These missed conversions were killer for the Eagles.
For Strake Jesuit, a close loss to Kingwood last week and the win against Saint Thomas might be the beginnings of better days for the Crusaders in rugby.

The Eagles dug themselves into a hole in the first half. After a Saint Thomas try dropped the deficit to two points, Jesuit went on a 21-0 run to finish out the half, thanks in part to sloppy penalties and turnovers by the Eagles, a strong wind that would not allow a good clearance ball, and complete incoordination from the Saint Thomas defense.

Editor's Note: It's always a pleasure when a young writer steps in the arena to take on the monster that is writing. Even more so when that young writer slays the monster. This Is Texas Rugby would like to welcome Peter Scamardo to the family. We hope that his endeavor inspires others to take step in with us!

All Pictures courtesy of Elizabeth Pardee.

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