This past week’s matchup between the Pride of Perry Street Prep and the Eagles of Gonzaga turned out to have all the excitement expected from two of the Washington DC area’s top high school rugby programs.
The game was played in front of a raucous crowd as both teams hoped to maintain their undefeated records.
Throughout the first half, Gonzaga demonstrated their superior size and strength as they dominated scrums, line outs and loose play. Led by Gonzaga prop forward Matt Flynn and flanker Andrew Iscaro, the Eagles steamrolled over the smaller, but faster Perry Street Prep side. Despite Gonzaga spending much of the first half camped inside the Pride’s 22-meter-line, the first score of the night belonged to the Pride.
Following several pick-and-go’s by the Pride forward pack, Perry Street’s scrumhalf Justin Owens chipped ahead into space with flyhalf Jihad Khabir racing ahead to dot down his lone try of the night. Owens missed the conversion attempt and the score remained 5-0.
Following the restart, Gonzaga went back on attack and continued to overpower the Pride through multiple phases. Though struggling, the Pride defense continued to hold. Then, with nine minutes left in the half, the Pride’s inside center was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle forcing them to play a man down for the remainder of the first half and the opening of the second half.
The Pride survived the "sin-bin period"(10 minutes playing a man down) and then got a surprise score when a Gonzaga player lost the ball in contact. Flanker Christian Adamas pounced on the ball and raced 65 meters for the try, and a 10-0 Pride lead.
Stung by the try and now down two scores, Gonzaga continued to bang away at the Perry Street goal line through multiple phase attacks. The Pride just managing to steal the ball at the last second and clear their lines. Gonzaga looked like they finally cracked the Prides defense after five phases on the goal line, but the ball was held up in-goal.
Gonzaga kept at it. Their efforts were finally rewarded when their forwards bulled over for the hard earned try. The conversion made it 10-7 Pride.
Gonzaga continued to dominate possession and efforts paid off as they sucked defenders in to one side of the field through multiple forward strikes and then quickly reversed the field spinning it through the backline into the waiting hands of sub forward Bayo Adebonogo, who dotted down in the corner. Conversion good, 14-10 Gonzaga.
Several minutes later, it appeared the Pride looked would have the next scoring opportunity as they were awarded a penalty almost dead center 20 meters out. With no kicker available, they opted for the lineout, but the punt didn’t find touch. Gonzaga survived that attack and then hit a penalty of their own to make the final score 17-10.
It was an excellent meeting of two of the better teams in the nation. Gonzaga, now #1 in the RUGBYMag.com’s rankings, will count themselves fortunate to come away with a victory.