Monday, June 15, 2015

MD-3 Championship; Tri-City Barbarians v Wichita Barbarians

USAR MD-3 Championship: Wichita Barbarians v Tri-City Barbarians
Wichita front row, Sam Arndt, harries Tri-City halfback, Mike Brennan
Sunday’s opening championship fixture between Barbarians of Wichita and Tri-City (Bay City, Midland and Saginaw, Michigan) got underway under clear and sunny skies with a bit of a blow in the air and seasonal weather clouds staging in the west.  Tri-City had scored an average of 45+ points-per-match in the playoffs with wins over Michiana Moose (IN) 65-10, Bremer County Bucks (PA) 45-29, Danbury Mad Hatters (CT) 46-17, and Old Gaelic Rugby (PA) 27-19, while Wichita were tallying on average 37+ points-per, topping KC Blues D-3 34-7, our Queen City Rams 66-0, Colusa County Rugby (CA) 35-14, and  Dallas Athletic Rugby 14-10. Of a certainty this would not be a low-scoring affair, and with two instances of knotted scores and a trio of lead changes - two in the last 10 minutes of play - those in attendance were treated to a thrilling contest of the highest order.
Tri-City’s number guy, winger Jonathon Beyerlein, lined up a shot on goal early after infringement by Wichita at breakdown, but his attempt from inside the ten meter line between the hashes was pushed just wide.
Wichita were pushing hard in their opponent’s half when City turned the ball over and flyer Ryan Wall made the corner and 50 meters fast before being brought to ground within the Wichita 22. City maintained possession and six phases on, blindside Devon Benedict shot over goaline for a try converted by Beyerlein, and Tri-City were aboard and 7-nil the score in the 12th minute.
City’s backrow lock received a yellow ticket and a ten-minute seat for a dangerously high tackle. With a lineout won, attacking from City’s 22, ball spun wide was knocked-on dooming that movement. But Wichita returned to City territory swiftly. Wichita won scrumball 12 meters out, 8man Tony George picked and powered weakside before offloading to openside flanker Matt Cofman, who dummied to space, fended a tackle and grounded for conversion by inside center Dustin Fross: scores drawn at 7-the-house on the half hour.
A penalty awarded by referee Scott Green to Tri-City at midfield and the hoist for touch produced a lineout 30 meters out from Wichita’s goal. Turnovers traded and City hard on the march inside the Wichita 22 with pick and goes from breakdown and near-channel, three-quartersline work. Half dozen punishing phases in Wichita’s business district and ball spun from breakdown found wing Wall free to dash into goal for his grounding and Beyerlein’s additional deuce: 14-7 for Tri-City after 38 minutes.
Wichita would level things just prior to referee Green’s halftime signal with a dot by halfback Joshua West and its completion by Fross, and everyone had 14 as lads went to lockers for hydration and instruction.
As scoreline would indicate, sides were well-matched with each displaying crushing movements in the near channels and promise out wide.
Wichita worked the short, pounding gainers from the breakdown into City’s 22 before West slung wide on the shortside, finding wing Seth Akpovona clear for his 15 meter romp to goal and a new leader, 19-14 for Wichita at minute 51.
Fross extended the lead with a sticksplitter from 22 meters out on the right post: 22-14 in the 55th minute.
Tri-City replied with a try by Beyerlein after a jinky, swervy jaunt of 25 meters; his own conversion and 22-21 the score nearing the hour mark.
A Wichita infraction at City’s 22; boot for touch and a lineout six meters out; that won, a slanting maul to goal and engine roomee Derick Hargrave dropped on the pill for a fiver: 27-21 to Wichita at 65.
Wichita’s replacement sorted himself a ten-minute respite for conduct unbecoming in the 69th minute and Tri-City were quick to capitalize that advantage. Outside center, Samisone Hafoka, burst to space inside the 50 and outraced pursuit for his corner try that was accurately converted by Beyerlein from touch, 30 meters out, and City had regained the lead, 28-27 in the 70th minute of action.
Grim and determined the offense from each now, daunting and desperate the defensive maneuverings as time fled rapidly. Tri-City with the penalty award 25 meters from joy; tapped and spun to breakdown, five phases and ball tossed into touch for possession exchange. Now Wichita, with precise communication on a flowing piece featuring deft steps from flyhalf Andy Dinh… led to an apparent try by tighthead Sam Arndt, but further review revealed a forward pass and go-ahead negated.
Injury time and City with the scrumput at its own  22 meter line. But the put was poached by the Wichita pack and four banging phases on, a penalty award. With the entire stadium holding its collective breath, Mr. Fross, cool as you’d like, slotted the kick for the 2015 USA Rugby National Championship on the record of 30-28 to Wichita at Green’s terminal tweet.
W Barbarians - Try: Cofman, West, Akpovona, Hargrave ; Con: Fross (2); Pen: Fross (2);
Tri-City Barbarians - Try: Benedict, Wall, Beyerlein, Hafoka ; Con:  Beyerlein (4)

Match Officials: Steve Green (Referee); Stu Geiger, Steve Gore (RAs)

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