PWRFC vs Brandywine - the Rematch Ensues
Philadelphia-Whitemarsh (6-1) at Brandywine (0-6) - March 25, 2016
Was it a hope for spring? 70 degree heat, by comparison to the low 20s of that last two matches, provided a clear challenge to both teams’ abilities to adapt to the spike in temperature. The temperature was high, and not just for the thermometer. Both squads were heating up for this grudge match, after both teams’ respective league matches were canceled on account of the ice storm. PWRFC was eager to get its playoff run going in earnest, while Brandywine looked to avenge a 55-0 shutout in the fall.
At the start of the whistle, like greyhounds at the track, the boys in red got off to a fast start. After passing through several players, the ball found itself in the hands of outsider center Eric Miller, who made a 40 meter line break. Winger Pete Jean, who is getting better in every match, expertly read the situation and cut inside for a switch pass that yielded the first try of the game. After that initial shock, the two teams settled down with back and forth play. Both teams looked for territorial dominance through penalty kicking. On one such kick, PW gained the lineout deep in Brandywine’s territory. Fortunately for Brandywine, they stole the line out to avert disaster. Unfortunately for Brandywine, Miller read the counter attack movement and intercepted a pass for an easy pick-five. Later in the game, fellow center John Knab found the try zone after a smart penalty quick tap was taken by scrumhalf Andrew Kneisly. The try was not only a great example of Knab’s consistent support and work rate, but of Phiily’s clear intent to keep the pressure on Brandywine. This match was intended to put the league on notice. Minutes later, in typical rugby fashion, flanker Colin Westman (forward) did all of the work with a fantastic line break that ended up in the hands of Pete Jean (back) for his 2nd try. Forwards do the work, backs get the glory. That’s rugby for you.
1st Half: 24 - 0 Philadelphia-Whitemarsh
One such player, who does not subscribe to that rugby cliche, insisted on doing the work and claiming the glory. 2nd row and part time freight train Ian Williams, took a quick tap off a penalty, and ran through five, yes five (I watched the tape) defenders for a well earned try. In rugby, defenders must hold the tackler, otherwise they can get up, which Ian did, twice! And the other player nobody would want to defend against, 8-man Conway Maraki, and fellow wrecking ball, scored his try off of a pick from the scrum. Scrum trys in rugby are the gold standard for team effort. Even though Maraki is on the stat sheet, credit goes to the entire forward pack, who marched like a well trained phalanx for several meters and forced hundreds of pounds of man back. That try opened the floodgates, which were barely holding up. Mercy in rugby does not exist. Once there is blood in the air, the hounds are let loose.
The PW backs really showed their striking capability after a nifty play off the set piece, which yielded a 50 meter break that started with a perfect pass from flyhalf Joe Baker. Jean broke the line and this time, Miller was in support. He finished the job after a fantastic offload from the winger turned fullback. Not to be outdone, minutes later, Captain Chris Karas made a 50 meter line break through the heart of the defense. Unfortunately, nobody was there for the offload, so he smartly maintained possession by staying on his feet through the tackle. Kneisly finished the attack with a diving try from the ruck. The tryfest continued when impact sub Tristan Sylk took a well timed offload from fellow impact sub Joe Tumulty, who grabbed the errant thrown ball from the lineout. Sylk outran everyone for the long distance score, which put PW over the half century mark. Captain Karas demanded more from his team, and led by example, after he fought through several defenders to extend the lead. As the minutes ticked away, Brandywine had one last shot to avoid a shutout with a set piece in favorable field position. However, PW’s red wall held in the form of Knab forcing a knock on, which was a scooped up by Miller, who ran in the last try of the day. The slammed down ball dotted the exclamation point to a an emphatic win for PW. Brandywine will have to wait until Fall for another shot at redemption. On marches PWRFC.
Final Score: 67 – 0 Philadelphia-Whitemarsh
PW Try Scorers: Miller 3, Jean 2, Knab 1, Maraki 1, Kneisly 1, Sylk 1, Karas 1, Williams 1
Conversions: Baker 6/11
Man of the Match: Eric Miller
Our next match is this upcoming Saturday, April 1st, away at North Bay in North Bay, Maryland. Details will be sent out later this week.