By Michael J.A. Nauta Jr.
Under the bright lights at the Guam High School field, two of the IIAAG/GRFU High School Rugby League’s titans met up with one another in a highly anticipated matchup. Entering last night’s game, the FD Friars were looking to bounce back from a recent loss, while the GW Geckos were on a mission to keep their perfect record intact.
From start to finish, both teams gave the many fans in attendance a game filled with excitement, intensity, and hard-hitting action. However, at the end of the night, it was the boys in purple and gold that walked away with a hard-fought 7-0 victory. With the win, GW improves to 4-0 on the season, while the Friars drop to an even 2-2 record.
“Tonight we played our best and gave it our all against a very strong and respected GW team,” said Friars’ captain John Paul Mallari. “They were the better team tonight and they earned the win and with that they remain the best team in the league.”
Those who came to watch and witness a great game knew from the get-go that they were in for a treat. Both teams wasted no time displaying their strengths on both sides of the ball. The Geckos were first with the ball and immediately began to pound the ball downfield and into Friar territory. However, an alert and aware FD defense stood their ground and denied the Geckos from going beyond the 22-meter line.
For several minutes the game shifted to the middle of the field where neither team was able to penetrate. Scrum after scrum, lineouts after lineouts, possession continued to go back-and-forth with each team looking for the perfect opportunity to end the scoreless drought. It wasn’t till about midway through the half when the Friars were seeking points and went to the legs of Jerome Artero. However, Artero fell just short of splitting the uprights to keep the score reflecting “goose eggs.”
With less than three minutes left in the opening half, the Geckos’ took full advantage of their strength as they managed to win possession out of a scrum. That possession turned into five points as Jacob Bamba pounded his way through a feisty FD defense for the game’s first try. On the ensuing play, Ryan Quitugua successfully made the conversion upping the GW lead to 7-0. Despite threatening to score another try with seconds left, the Geckos would be denied as the whistle signaling halftime was blown.
“FD is a great team, so being able to score and take the early lead was a good advantage for us,” said GW’s Bamba. “After scoring that try we knew we couldn’t get comfortable and just had to keep working hard like we always do.”
Things seemed a bit different in the second half, as it was the Friars who looked to be the more aggressive between the two. Only minutes in, Noah Quitugua used his speedy legs to get himself deep into Gecko territory and a few meters within the try line. The Geckos defense fought and battled to deny Quitugua.
Possession for the remainder of the game went in favor of the Friars as they created three golden opportunities to get points on the board. However, nothing turned in their favor as GW held on to their seven-point lead. When the final whistle was blown, it was the Geckos who picked-up the “W” keeping their record unblemished.
“The win feels good, but things don’t stop here for us,” said Bamba. “After a game like this, the Friars just sent us a reminder that things aren’t and won’t always be easy.”
IIAAG/GRFU Rugby League action resumes play this Saturday with all divisions taking the field down at Southern High School. The girls varsity division will kick things off at 8am with the JFK Islanders taking on the Simon Sanchez Sharks. Boys varsity games starts at 3:30pm with the Geckos taking on the Sharks.
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