RUGBY: DOLPHINS MOVING ON TO SEMIS

RUGBY: DOLPHINS MOVING ON TO SEMIS

📅07 March 2015
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By Jose Terlaje

You could feel the competitive tension in the air at GW field from both players and spectators as the 4th seeded Southern High Dolphins went up against the 5th seeded Okkodo Bulldogs in the Boy’s High School Rugby quarterfinals. Both teams came into the game eager to compete, hoping to win and move one step closer to playing for the league championship.

The Dolphins came back to win the match over the Bulldogs 34-12 after being down 12-10 at the end of the first half. Southern High moves on to play the defending champion George Washington Geckos in the semifinals next Tuesday.

The Dolphins completely took over in the second half, scoring four tries and making two conversions without allowing their opponent to get any points on the board in that half.

“I just told the boys to shake off the mistakes. I had to tell them to overcome the doubt in their minds caused by their errors in order to move forward and go back to our game plan. Once they looked past that, they were able to eliminate the penalties and execute the game plan we’ve been working on,” said Southern Head Coach Steve McManus when asked about what changed for the Dolphins in the second half. McManus also gave kudos to the Bulldogs, stating that they earned the points they scored by capitalizing on the errors made by his team.

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Shortly after the kick-off on the second half, a penalty was called on the Bulldogs that gave the Dolphins a tap-and-go at half field. The Dolphins executed a kick-for-touch and were awarded a lineout at the Bulldogs 20 yard line. After winning the ball in the lineout, Southern’s Jared Edwards was able to fool the defense with some fake passes before passing the ball to Isaiah Cruz who ran the ball 10 yards to get his team into excellent scoring position.

After drawing in the defense, 8-man Kenan Quinata passed the ball to Cruz who ran a clear path into the try-zone to get the lead back for Southern. A failed conversion kick made Southern’s lead 15-12.

Southern High built on the momentum from getting the lead back and continued to push in the half. The Dolphins were able to progress the ball down the field as a unit, utilizing both their backs and forwards. A penalty was then given to the Bulldogs who chose to kick for touch and getting a lineout at half field.

Southern was able to win the lineout and gain positive yards once more with big runs by Cruz. As the Dolphins made their way toward the Okkodo try-zone, an injury timeout was given to Southern High to assess a player’s injury. After the timeout, a scrum was given to the Dolphins who hammered their way through the OHS defense eventually getting Mandy Andrew across the try-line. Topasna’s conversion was good this time, extending the Dolphins’ lead 22-12.

The Dolphins just kept it coming, playing smart and tough defense and scoring quickly after gaining possession of the ball again. After a huge run by Andrew, a penalty was called on the Bulldogs, resulting in a Southern High tap-and-go at the OHS five yard line. Cruz was given the ball again and ran the short yards into the try-zone but another failed conversion only boosted the Dolphins to a 27-12 lead.

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

On the next kick-off, the Bulldogs attempted to reignite the flames burning through them in the first half, gaining big yards by recovering the ball down field after kicking it. Once in scoring range, OHS looked to score but their efforts were stopped when a lineout given to them was won by the Dolphins. Southern High’s Napu Topasna received the ball and kicked it down field.

Topasna’s kick was recovered by teammate Tatian Grajo who ran the ball a good 30 yards downfield before a penalty was called around the OHS 6 yard line that awarded a scrum to the Dolphins. After winning the ball in the scrum, the Dolphins’ Quinata took the ball and ran over the Okkodo defense as he made his way into pay dirt, scoring his second try of the night. A good conversion by Topasna put the Dolphins up 34-12 as time ran down shortly after, giving the win to the Dolphins.

The first half of the match was tightly contested. In the opening minutes of the match, a penalty was called as the Dolphins were moving the ball down the field. The Dolphins went for penalty kick to put some quick points on the board. Napu Topasna was able convert on the penalty kick, giving Southern High an early 3-0 lead.

Moments later, as the Bulldogs progressed down the field, they attempted to answer back with a penalty kick of their own after a penalty was called on Southern High. The kick was no good and Southern was given a 22-drop. After the 22-drop was given, the two teams started to trade possessions, trying to use the kick and chase method but with both teams kicking the ball down the field, their forward progress would be negated. The Bulldogs then looked to wing Dylan Aguon to get some yards and were successful but the Southern defense began to pick up the pace and get more stops.

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

The Dolphins then put themselves back together and were able to find good field position. After getting six yards from the Okkodo try-zone, Southern High passed the ball down to Keenan Quinata who knocked down some defenders on his way to score his first try of the match and extend his team’s lead. Topasna was good on the conversion after and the Dolphins went up 10-0.

But just as quickly as the Dolphins were able to pull themselves together, they started to fall apart in the first half. After the next kick-off a lineout was given to the Bulldogs at the Southern 35 yard line. After winning the lineout, Okkodo’s Mark Lao was able to shake some defenders and run the ball straight down the sideline and into pay dirt but the conversion was no good, only cutting Southern High’s lead to 10-5.

Just seconds after the next kick-off, a scrum was awarded to Southern. The Dolphins won the scrum and started to execute a hands play but a bad pass by a Dolphins’ player was picked off by the Bulldogs’ Richard Hale III who looked like lightning, sprinting all the way down from to the try-zone untouched. Lao was good on his conversion this time and was able to give Okkodo a 12-10 lead over the Dolphins as the half ended.

“Hard work pays off with a great coach and a great team,” said Forwards Captain Kenan Quinata of the Southern High Dolphins when asked about his feelings after the match. Quinata played an excellent game, picking up an assist and scoring two tries to help his team get the win. Quinata also said that his team was able to push with the big boost of morale gained from scoring together as a unit. He added that his team would not be able to stay sane and come together when their temper gets the best of them if not for the guidance of Coach Steve McManus.

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

“There’s no special plan. The only plan is to play better rugby and do what we’ve been training for all year,” said Dolphins Coach Steven McManus. As the Dolphins move forward to the semifinals against the George Washington Geckos, McManus says he intends on working to fix the things that didn’t work in their first meeting as well as implementing some new strategies. McManus added that the Geckos have earned the right to be the defending champions and his team must respect them but at the same time still have the mindset that they can win if they play with everything they’ve got.

The Dolphins have always been a consistent team in the league, making it not just to the semifinals every season but the finals for the past few years as well, unfortunately coming up short but the winning consistency is still there. Coach McManus strongly believes that it’s the Southern culture that has allowed the team to be successful throughout the years, despite drastic change in the players and opponents. McManus stated that all the teams he’s coached have always been tenacious players who are without fear and are willing to fight hard for the win. Their toughness can also be a setback said McManus but he does what he can to keep it under control.

The semifinal match against the Geckos this Tuesday will definitely be one to look out for.

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

 

 

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