Philly-Whitemarsh Team Effort Defeats Old Gaelic

Philadelphia Whitemarsh RFC took a big step forward Saturday against a perennial EPRU power. PWRFC (3-0) stayed unbeaten and handed Old Gaelic RFC (1-1) their first Fall loss in 4 years with a 34-28 victory. PW persevered with a whole team effort. They capitalized on Old Gaelic’s mistakes and held off a late Old Gaelic push to walk of the pitch the victors. 

PWRFC, playing hosts to the team from Harrisburg, got on the scoreboard first. Conway Maraki broke the gain line on a set piece and set up a ruck. Bob Haller picked the ball and got it wide to Kurht Engle who took off from midfield, made two tacklers miss and took it all the way in. Jim Rosato converted the try to make it 7-0 just 5 minutes into the match. Old Gaelic responded with some solid phases rugby and tied game with a converted try of their own.

Both sides spent the next 20 minutes feeling each other out, trading penalties, and knock-ons in the muddy conditions. Old Gaelic was unable to get points out of sustained ball control on PW’s side of the field for an extended period of time. Philly re-took the lead with 10 minutes left in the half. After the sides swapped ‘not straight’ calls on lineouts on the Old Gaelic’s 5 meter line, a Philly knock-on led to a 5 meter scrum for Old Gaelic backed up in their own territory. The ball squirted out the back of their scrum and in a heads up move, Philly Whitemarsh scrum half, Dave Peirce, scooped it up and dove across the line for the score. Rosato again converted to give PW a 14-7 lead with 5 minutes left in the first half.

Old Gaelic regained possession of the ball after the ensuing kickoff and brought it deep into PW territory. A heated scuffle on the goal line ended in 2 cards being issued. A yellow to Old Gaelic and a red to PW’s Ryan McLean, leaving the home team with 14 men for the remainder of the game. The visitor’s forwards punched it in on the resulting penalty and last play of the half. The conversion tied the score 14-14.

The second half, beginning with 14 players on each side, otherwise started much like the first: PW put points on the board. PW used four phases of strong pick-and-go’s from the forwards to suck in the Old Gaelic defense before getting the ball out wide to outside center Bryan Oteri who zig-zagged his way past the remaining defenders to give Philly Whitemarsh a 19-14 lead. PW, then playing down a man, scored another try not long after. Despite good goal line defense from Old Gaelic, Maraki was able to barge through next to the corner flag off of a PW quick tap off of a penalty. PW then led 24-14.

Rosato extended the Philly Whitemarsh lead to 27-14 on a penalty kick from 30m midway through the second half. Old Gaelic fought back however, scoring their third converted try after a period of sustained pressure in PW’s end and the lead was cut to 6. PW again turned an Old Gaelic miscue into points. Deep in their own end the visitors stole a defensive lineout , but the pass from their scrum half to the fly half was intercepted by a streaking Tim Foley, coming from the back of the lineout, and taken in under the posts giving the hosts a 34-21 lead.

Old Gaelic took advantage of their one man advantage and scored another converted try with just 7 minutes remaining. Down by just 6 and needing a converted try for the lead Old Gaelic could not get past a stout goal line defense from Philly Whitemarsh in the waning seconds. The final whistle came after an Old Gaelic turnover on the Philly Whitemarsh 5 meter line giving PW the win. On the day PWRFC scored 5 tries to Old Gaelic’s 4.

Final PWRFC 34 - Old Gaelic 28

Philadelphia Whitemarsh RFC travels to Lehigh Valley RFC (1-2) next week.

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