Saturday, March 7, 2015

St Thomas nips Kingwood in a thriller

STH Lock Charlie Vatterott runs hard through the Kingwood defense.
Pictures courtesy of Elizabeth Pardee
By Peter Scamardo, STHS
7 March 2015

Following the St. Thomas JV’s 72-point shutout of Kingwood’s JV, the varsity were eager to one up their underclassmen. The Eagles came into the game barely clinging to third place in the South division and on a two-game losing streak. They faced a very game Kingwood, who despite coming off their first loss were still a tough team for anyone to face. The Eagles played with urgency throughout the game, knowing that another division loss would almost certainly knock them out of contention.

St. Thomas started the game strong in the first half, going on a 17-0 run before giving up a score. The Eagles played with much improved defense, setting their pillars and posts as the backs communicated to come up as one unit. The gaps that Kingwood could run through grew slimmer as the game continued and the constant pressure from the backline forced Kingwood to knock the ball on. Kingwood’s only score of the first half came off a quick tap penalty, and only after a try line stand by the St. Thomas defense.

The second half of the game featured a huge momentum swing. Kingwood scored three straight times, all off of line breaks when the St. Thomas backline was bunching up, completely erasing their deficit and taking the lead 22-17. The Eagles learned early in the game that if they mauled they would get some serious distance before Kingwood could bring them down. The maul was crucial in their comeback, using it to punch in a try immediately after they blew their lead. With the score now tied due to a missed conversion kick, the Eagles were determined to retake the lead.
St. Thomas used the maul early and often to their advantage
The Eagles once again used the maul to their advantage, feeling that if they kept possession they would score. A penalty at kickoff helped St. Thomas get the ball into Kingwood’s half, and were able to bring the ball inside the Kingwood ten after they collapsed two consecutive maul’s; the Kingwood #4 was sin binned as a result of this.

A series of events followed where the Eagles were held up twice, failed to recover a mishandling in the try zone, and a try from a scrum was called back for being offside, St. Thomas kept driving and driving (spending the last fifteen minutes of the game in Kingwood’s half) before eventually punching in the final score. A successful conversion kick made it a seven point game, 29-22 for the home team. Kingwood attempted a last second drive in an attempt to tie the game but St. Thomas was able to win the ball back and run out the clock.

In a game that is possibly a contender for match of the year, the Eagles played resiliently against a very stout Kingwood team. Lesser teams would have thrown in the towel after blowing the lead they had, but the St. Thomas players dug down deep and found a way to win and arguably did it the hardest way possible. Both of these teams are very much still alive in the playoff hunt. It is still a long road ahead with a lot more rugby to be played, by the time the season is over this game might have more meaning than we realize.
STH Flanker Griffin Maat commits to tackling Kingwood's TH Prop

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