SHARCS CLAIM A PLAYOFF BIRTH, WHILE THE MEN GET CLOSER
3 MATCHES, 3 WINS FOR HARC
It was set up to be a great day of rugby at The Farm League Park in Spring, TX. Three matches would be played on the day with the HARC D2 and D4 Men hosting the West Houston Lions and the D1 Women SHARCs facing off against the Dallas Harlequin Women. The HARC sides ended up winning all three and with those wins moved each team one step closer to clinching playoff spots.
The first match of the day saw the D2 Men take the field. After losing to West Houston in December, the Men of HARC were ready to show that they were a different team than in 2018. The first score for HARC came in the 7th minute from a fierce maul off a line-out, scored by Stewart Hundley after a perfectly placed penalty kick by HARC Player/Coach Rory Gleeson. The second score followed eleven minutes later was after another dominate maul off the lineout by the forwards. After the forwards drove forward about five meters, HARC’s big center, John Wesley, took a perfect pass from Gleeson, ran through a West Houston Lion, and dragged another one with him into the try zone. Shortly after Wesley ran the ball deep into the Lions territory only to end up in a missed pass that gave the Lions a lineout. HARC loose head prop Abe Blanco promptly won the ball in the lineout and the ball was quickly moved down the line to opposite side winger, John LeDuff, who dragged two Lions with him into the try zone to make the score 19-0 in the 21st minute. The far side wing, Stefan Marr got into the action shortly after with a long try after a powerful run, and great offload by HARC Captain, number eight, Tom Sargeant. The West Houston Lions had some pride left as they answered with a couple of penalties had HARC moving backwards, with the Lions scrumhalf, Ernest Alvarado, getting the try off a quick tap in the 34th minute. A try by Ernesto Turc, on a brutal cutback move against the Lions defense, then a long Tom Sargeant try, set up by excellent running and a perfect off load by John LeDuff, capped the first half, with HARC up 38-7.
The second half started much like the first, with the second try of the day scored by Hundley, taking it for himself off a ruck. Back to back tries by fullback Mitch Pedler, a try by David Calero, coming on in relief for captain Tom Sargeant in his first match in four months, after a dominate 5 meter scrum by the HARC pack pushed West Houston into their try zone, and a try by Julian Nunn capped off the rout. The 11 tries, 9 of which had successful conversions by Gleeson, capped the 73-7 rout.
The match marked the D2 Men’s fifth consecutive win and continued their undefeated 2019 run. In the win streak, the D2 Men have avenged each of the early season losses against The Woodlands, HURT, and West Houston Lions. Currently the D2 Men sit at the top of the Red River Rugby Conference Men’s Division 2 Central/South division with a 2 point cushion over 2nd place HURT, who has played 1 less match.
The D1 Women were next on the pitch. With a 5 competition point result, a win with 4 or more tries scored, the SHARCs would clinch a birth into USA Rugby’s National Championship Series Women’s Division 1 Round of 8, representing the Red River Rugby Conference. The SHARCs, led by HARC Player/Coach Nick James, didn’t let the anticipation build for long. James scored the SHARCs first try in the 1st minute. The SHARCs kept up the fast start with tries from Wingers Nadira Smith and Bonnie Richardson, both converted by Fullback Delia Nava, for a quick 19-0 lead before 10 minutes had come ticked onto the clock. The Quins kept up the fight thought and were rewarded with their own try in the 12th minute, but the dominate SHARC defense ensured that was their once points of the day. SHARC #8 Leslie Schroeder got in on the offensive action before half time dotting down two tries of her own with Smith and Richardson adding the seconds each as well. Nava’s accurate boot converted all 4, leaving the score at half time SHARCs 45 – Quins 5. The second half was much of the same for the SHARCs with James scored her second and third tries, Smith scoring her third, and #6 Caitlin Raney and Inside Center Meagan Goode adding tries. Nava converted 2 of those tries leaving the score at the final whistle 74-5 to the SHARCs.
The win ensured the SHARCs top of the table finish and the birth into the Round of 8. Next up for the Women though are 2 straight weekends of Saturday and Sunday matches as the SHARCs complete the Gold Cup competition. On March 30th and 31st, the SHARCs head to Austin to play the Philadelphia Women and Detroit Rugby Women. The next weekend, April 6th/7th, the Women travel up north to Minneapolis to play the Minneapolis Valkyries and Raleigh Venom.
Last but not least, it was the D4 Men’s turn on the pitch. Due to injuries and shortage of players for the West Houston Lions D4 side, the match would be played as a forfeit but great rugby was seen anyways. The HARC D4 side faced off against a motley crew that included a few HARC D2 Men’s players dressed in Lions garb. New players to the team, Carlos Soler, David Miller, and Sunny Sikka scored tries for the HARC side, as did guest player from the Panama City Beach Hurricanes, and HARC alumnus, Felix Ayadi, and unofficial team doctor Dr. Cris Mathew. HARC Players Jesse Dominguez, Stefan Marr, Mackie Hirsch, and Mitch Pedler all scored while wearing West Houston colors, in an unofficial 36-22 HARC D4 victory.
The next home matches for all 3 teams will be on April 13th at The Farm League Park. The D2 Men will kick off the day at 2pm hosting the San Marcos Greys. A HARC win will clinch a Top 2 finish in the table and a birth in the Red River Rugby Conference Playoffs. The D4 Men will follow with a match against the Men of Galveston Rugby Club, a tune up for a potential spot in the Texas Rugby Union’s Championship Weekend. The Women will close out the day at 6pm facing off against the Women of the Dallas Harlequins. Come on out and celebrate some great rugby being played in Houston.
Triple Header Photos From March 23rd
Photo Credits to Mike Fortey. Check out his galleries at https://mike40.smugmug.com/