Charlotte Catholic Match Report

10 MAR 2018 | BY TOD SHEPHERD

Wando Rugby friends,

Today we travelled to Charlotte Catholic….to play their powerhouse program. We had never beaten them before….losing the last two years….in close games.

Today, the A Team started well, winning a penalty at the opening breakdown….near midfield…with a chance to kick deep and have a lineout inside their 22m. However we missed touch…and gave Catholic a chance to run the ball and stretch their legs. Uh oh.

But our defense was really good…and we stopped them. A few minutes later, we had a penalty…and we wisely chose to kick for goal. Huw slotted the kick from 25m to give us a 3-0 lead. That’s huge mentally to give us a lead, build the confidence and get the scoreboard moving.

Charlotte had two huge props…easily over 300lbs…who liked to hammer around the breakdown…and run the pick & go. They made decent ground using this tactic, forcing our forwards to work extremely hard. After several phases, they fed the ball to their big winger who crashed over for a try. When I say big, I mean really big. He is the biggest winger we have ever seen!!! Prolly 6’1 and 270lbs. Their coach says he runs a 4.5 40m dash. Yikes. It waa 5-3 for them after the missed conversion.

About 10 mins later, the big winger scored again…making it 10-3 for them. It’s worth noting that the “big boy” was lined up across from Ross. If you have ever tried to tackle a bull, that’s what Ross was up against. Each time their large human ran at Ross, Ross made beautiful tackles. Smiles all around!!!

On occasion, they would swap the big winger onto the other side of the pitch, and Mason Bailey was up to the challenge, denying him from making more than a few meters every time he touched the ball. It was pretty special to see.

Luckily, we were also putting together some solid phases of rugby, so we just needed to stay the course and play our game.

At the 28 min mark, we were rewarded when Ben scored on a taxi from 3m out to make it 10-10….a score very indicative of the competitive nature of the game so far. Huw made the conversion.

A couple mins later, we were rolling again!!! We we’re deep inside their end, and Ben scored from a quick tap penalty from Jack to make it 15-10 for us at the halftime.

As the second half began, we didn’t make any subs even though our depth on the bench was loaded with talent!!! It was a tough call not to start Owen, Carson, Ahmad, Will, Nick or Mason Suggs. It’s a tough job to be a reserve, and we have to give a lot of credit to those 8 men in jerseys 16 through 23.

It’s worth noting that the darn field was only 55m wide, which is a full 15m more narrow than it should be. It felt like playing on a tennis court. This makes it incredibly difficult to get the ball wide to our speed merchants on the wing. It was though a beautiful stadium with nice green grass….a lot like Wimbledon now that I think of it!!!

At the 50min mark, it was pretty tense. Catholic continued to use their massive forwards….and our boys continued to make amazing tackles. I can write till my thumbs cramp up about how good Arthur played, but you would not appreciate it unless you were there. The same can be said about Gage, Huw, Caleb, Owen, Connor, Joe, Jessie, Holston, Baylor and Daniel. Defense wins championships….and we proved it today.

We prolly ran 200 “pick & go” taxis today, a world record!!! It was from taxis numbered 142 through 157 that we scored. It was Ben again….a hat trick for that tricky guy!!! Huw converted…22-10.

Owen came into the game and didn’t miss tackle. He is like a brick wall…don’t even think about trying to run through or around him!!!! Same can be said about Carson who moved to wing, proving to be the most versatile player in Wando Rugby history!!!

By this time, the big heavies on Catholic were starting to wear down, and again our fitness was the difference. At the 55 min mark, Huw made a nice “show and go”, and darted through their centers. His pace was too much, and he scored from about 30m to make it 29-10 after Huw’s conversion. Smiles all around!!!

Catholic didn’t have much of threat in the backs….or perhaps because our defense was too good. I don’t think they had a line break the entire game.

At 62 mins, Huw made a penalty kick from 24m to make it 32-10. It’s nice to keep the scoreboard moving and burn clock when you are ahead.

As the final whistle blew, Charlotte scored on the last play of them game….to make the final 32-15.

Gage was a monster today…making several line breaks….and being a real thorn in the Catholic side. He put us on the front foot many times….which is massive….forcing their defense to go backwards.

Joe’s lineout throws were a thing of beauty!!!! I don’t think we lost a single lineout…. easily winning nice ball to both Travis and Gage. That is why we practice…and tons a credit to the coaches and players for working so hard to get it right. Thanks guys.

Tyler didn’t get much ball but when he did, he proved why he is tougher to tackle than a greased pig!

I could write all day about how well we played. But you guys know it. You put your bodies on the line for your jersey and your teammates. The coaches could not be more proud. I know there will be some sore bodies tomorrow. Be sure to take a 7-12 minute ice bath tonight and again tomorrow. It was help relieve the inflammation and soreness.

Today was a big win, but our next game will be even tougher against South Greenville, who also defeated Charlotte Catholic. Savor this win men, write it in your diary, and get ready for an even bigger battle on March 23.

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