Sunday, March 29, 2015

Eagles soar past the Barbarians

Props Nate McKinney and Robert Gonzalez commit to tackling
 Katy's high scoring Jason Paul Jr.

Picture courtesy of Elizabeth Pardee.
By Peter Scamardo, STHS

For the second straight year the Katy Barbarians gave the St. Thomas Eagles stiff competition in the Eagles’ first game back from their annual Spring Break tour. And for the second straight year the Eagles manage to come out on top against the Barbarians, winning the contest 21-15.

The Katy Barbarians were coming off a match with The Woodlands in which they were shutout 26-0. The St. Thomas rugby team was coming off a tour to the East Coast, in which they defeated nationally ranked opponents Gonzaga (DC) and St. Joseph’s Prep. A feat they accomplished as an unranked squad, and something they could not accomplish a year prior against Xavier and Greenwich when they were a ranked squad.

Coming into the game the two teams were fully aware that the loser would have their chances of reaching the cup semi-finals of the 2015 Rugby Texas Championship almost completely erased.

The Eagles knew points would be few and hard to come by against the Barbarians, but they opened up the game's scoring with a penalty kick within the first ten minutes.

The Barbarians responded by giving the Eagles a taste of their own medicine with the Katy scrum-half running the ball in following a maul. This would be the last time Katy led in the match. St. Thomas responded immediately, earning a penalty following a successful maul and Payton Pardee driving the ball into touch.

For St. Thomas, this was a game once dominated by their forward pack. The forwards' ability to win lineouts, move the ball through mauls, and gain important yardage on strong pick-and-go's were crucial in their teams win. The Katy pack might have been the toughest the Eagles have faced all season and made everything difficult for the red and white.
Katy's Justin Pugh breaks the gainline on his way to a Katy try.
Picture courtesy of Robert Rogers
The Eagles knew how skilled inside center Jason Paul “Tiki” Jr was and he was one of Katy’s main weapons keeping them in the game. His hard running helped split the defense and get his team into better field position. Tiki assisted a try that at the time cut Katy’s deficit to three points, held up a try by tight-head prop Nate McKinney as he rumbled down the field, and continued his impressive scoring streak with a try.

Santiago Gonzalez was by far the most valuable player for the Eagles this night. Accounting for eleven of the teams twenty-one points, his hard runs and kicking ability were crucial in a game where the Eagles were held to a season low two tries. The Barbarians inability to convert their kicks killed their chances for a comeback in this game.

For the Eagles, this was a strong win against a very good Katy team and should have them primed as they prepare to face their school rival St. Pius X this Thursday.

Flanker Griffin Maat reaches high for the ball
 with technique that won many lineouts.

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