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By Michael J.A. Nauta Jr.
With the Wettengel Rugby Field filled with tons of spectators and rugby student-athletes it was obvious that yesterday marked the opening day of action in the IIAAG/GRFU High School Rugby Season. Four different divisions took to the field with 27 total games played throughout the day.
In the first of three Boys Varsity matches scheduled, the John F. Kennedy Islanders went to battle against the George Washington Geckos. The two teams didn’t disappoint as each provided the crowd with an exciting game. However, only one team could walk away with a season-opening victory and when the final whistle was blown it was the Geckos who downed their opponents 21-14.
“This was a pretty exciting and intense first game of the season,” said JFK’s Kyle Thomas Perez. “Although we would’ve like to have earned a win, it didn’t happen for us and that’s because we played a very tough and respected GW team. They did an excellent job and their defense was tough all game long.”
The two teams wasted no time making a statement, as it was all hard-hitting from the get-go. JFK had the game’s first possession and looked to put points on the board early on. However, a strong purple and gold defense denied any chances. Five minutes into the opening-half, GW’s Jacob Bamba scored the game’s first try after taking advantage of a possession won out of a scrum. Not too long after, teammate Tevin Santos converted a kick making it a 7-0 game.
“Our team has a lot of heart and we play with mental and physical toughness,” said Bamba. “Scoring the first try of the season for our team only proves what we can do when we work together.”
As the game progressed on, the Islanders continued to find ways to score but to no avail. Turnovers became a huge factor for JFK as the Geckos capitalized and eventually built a 21-0 lead with less than two minutes to go in the half. With the clock winding down and both teams in their sixth scrum of the half, the Geckos were able to win possession. However, that was short-lived as an attempt to kick the ball downfield found it’s way directly into the hands of JFK’s Perez. Using his lightning speed, Perez travelled nearly three-quarters of the field to end the Islanders’ scoring drought. A made conversion sent both teams into halftime with the score reflecting 21-7.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” said Perez. “The second I got possession of the kick I just told myself to use your speed and get that score.”
Second-half action witnessed both teams coming out much tougher on defense, as neither was able to produce anything in the first five minutes. The Geckos found themselves at the five-meter line and ready to tack on more points later in the half. However, the JFK defense held and forced a turnover. Working their way downfield, the Islanders made perfect use of the possession and pulled within seven after Joshua Songsong made his way to the try line.
With less than three minutes left in the game, the Geckos wanted to score in hopes of sealing the deal, while the Islanders searched for the equalizer. Time eventually played in favor of the Geckos as the final whistle blew to preserve the seven-point lead for the victory.
“We played a good JFK team and they gave us lots to think about after they scored in the second-half,” said Bamba. “It just came down to us keeping focus and continuing to smash, smash, smash.”
IIAAG/GRFU High School Rugby League action resumes next week Saturday with games beginning at 8am at the Okkodo High School Field. The Geckos are set to take on the Southern High Dolphins at 3pm, while the Islanders varsity have a bye weekend.
- GW Geckos defeated SSHS Sharks 19-0 (Girls Varsity Tackle)
- Notre Dame Royals defeated Guam High Panthers 19-0 (Girls Varsity Tackle)
- Okkodo Bulldogs defeated Southern Dolphins 14-5 (Girls Varsity Tackle)
- AOLG Cougars defeated JFK Islanders 19-5 (Girls Varsity Tackle)
- GW Geckos defeated Guam High Panthers 40-0 (Girls Varsity Tackle)
- SSHS Sharks defeated Okkodo Bulldogs 5-0 (Girls Varsity Tackle)
- AOLG Cougars defeated Notre Dame Royals 26-0 (Girls Varsity Tackle)
- Southern Dolphins defeated JFK Islanders 19-5 (Girls Varsity Tackle)
- GW Geckos defeated Okkodo 17-0 (Girls Varsity Tackle)
- AOLG Cougars defeated Guam High Panthers 35-0 (Girls Varsity Tackle)
- SSHS Sharks defeated GW Geckos 14-0 (Girls JV Tackle)
- Notre Dame Royals defeated Guam High Panthers 15-0 (Girls JV Tackle)
- Okkodo Bulldogs defeated Southern Dolphins 14-5 (Girls JV Tackle)
- AOLG Cougars defeated JFK Islanders 36-0 (Girls JV Tackle)
- GW Geckos defeated Guam High Panthers 17-0 (Girls JV Tackle)
- Okkodo Bulldogs defeated SSHS Sharks 24-5 (Girls JV Tackle)
- AOLG Cougars defeated Notre Dame Royals 7-5 (Girls JV Tackle)
- JFK Islanders tie Southern Dolphins 5-5 (Girls JV Tackle)
- Okkodo Bulldogs defeated GW Geckos 15-10 (Girls JV Tackle)
- AOLG Cougars defeated Guam High Panthers 17-0 (Girls JV Tackle)
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