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Last-Second Try Wins Virginia for West End

    

HS Boys

Last-Second Try Wins Virginia for West End

West End completed an undefeated season Saturday with a last-minute 22-20 victory over local rivals Fort Hunt to win the Rugby Virginia state championship.

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West End fullback John "Cowbell" LeFevre scoring a try in the 2015 Rugby Virginia Final
Fullback John LeFevre on his way to scoring West End's second try.
Ellio Malave takes a lineout for West End
Ellio Malave takes a lineout for West End.
Jacob Estes taps and is about to score the game-winner
Jacob Estes taps and is about to score the game-winner.

The top team out of the North Conference, West End had defeated Peninsula #2 Hampton in the semifinals, while Fort Hunt, the North #2, had defeated Peninsula winners Denbigh to get to the championship game.

West End started well, using their entire lineup to open up the attack. Within five minutes hooker Ieuan Israel had  bulled over the Fort Hunt line and with scrumalf Jacob Estes hitting the conversion, it was 7-0.

But Fort Hunt replied, blocking a clearance kick and, after a few phases, punching in the try to make it 7-5.

The teams battled in the middle of the field for much of the remainder of the half. Both defenses held the scoring chances to a minimum. West End could have extended their lead when a penalty right in front of the posts begged for a kick at goal. However, the players went for the quick tap and Fort Hunt’s defense held.

Just before halftime, West End finally broke through. Off an attacking lineout they inserted fullback John LeFevre, who ran around the outside to score. Estes hit the conversion to make it 14-5. Israel got another chance right off the restart with a 25-meter run, but the support wasn’t quite there to make the movement continue.

So on to the second half, and again West End had a good shot at points, and again opted to tap and run it. Fort Hunt held the line, but eventually were penalized again and this time Estes slotted the kick to make it 17-5.

Fort Hunt replied, camping out on the West End line and, with the heat and humidity wearing down the players, forcing some errors. A scrum to West End five meters out ended up in Fort Hunt hands and a try to make it 17-12.  Several minutes later, Fort Hunt won their own lineout ten meters out and drove it in to make it 17-17.

On the ensuing restart, West End recovered the ball and went wide, but LeFevre was stripped of the bake and and Fort Hunt once again marched into West End territory. The West End defense held firm for a while, but a penalty was almost inevitable and Fort Hunt led 20-17.

Down to the last three minutes and with both sides feeling the heat, West End rallied enough to into Fort Hunt territory.

Flyhalf Tyler Griffin nearly broke through with about 2 minutes left, but he was held up in-going. On the ensuing scrum, after a re-set, Fort Hunt was called for a penalty and Estes tapped and raced for the corner. He dove in to put his side up 22-20. That was the last play of the game.

It was a dramatic ending to a wild game, and capped an unbeaten season for West End, which has made the Virginia state final in six of the last seven years, winning three. This result was revenge for Fort Hunt’s win in the final a year ago.