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Eastside of Washington Shuts Out Touring Granite Bay

irish rugby tours

Eastside of Washington Shuts Out Touring Granite Bay

Eastisde, in white and black, charges on.

On a day marked by looming Washington skies over Highland Middle School, the Eastside Lions Varsity welcomed the touring Granite Bay Rugby Club in what was anticipated to be a thrilling encounter.

Granite Bay, on a tour of the Pacific Northwest with Irish Rugby Tours, brought a considerable number of supporters, setting the stage for an intense showdown with Eastside, a team riding high on a winning streak across Washington and beyond.

The match kicked off with both teams displaying high levels of energy, exchanging tactical plays on the wings and through the center field. However, early opportunities were squandered by knock-ons and a lack of discipline at the offside line; nerves, perhaps, in this much-anticipated matchup. It was in the 8th minute that the Lions found their structure, capitalizing on a penalty kick that positioned them tantalizingly close to Granite Bay's line.

The resulting play, a masterpiece of drilling and skill, saw hooker Logan Shea's precise throw find Austen Chen, whose mauling partnership with prop Kai Holec, got the crowd on their feet. It was the scrumhalf, Noah Clark, who provided the crucial pop to flyhalf Kellen Eskridge, leading to a dive over the line for a try. No.8 Lewis Chambers nailed the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

The Lions' continued pressure on Granite Bay's defense showcased the latter's resilience. Despite fierce tackles, the Lions kept coming. A moment of high drama unfolded in the 19th minute when Granite Bay nearly scored, only for Eastside's defensive wall to prevail.

The match narrative continued to build as Eastside notched a second try in the 32nd minute, again demonstrating their lineout prowess with Chen and Holec's combination proving too much for Granite Bay. This time Holec claimed the points when he drove over into the corner. Chambers made his second successful conversion. The half closed with Eastside leading 14-0, setting a tense stage for the second half.

Granite Bay entered the second half with renewed vigor, finding gaps in the Eastside defense but ultimately being thwarted by impressive cover tackles from Julius Leapai, Asa Young, and Parker Jackson. Jackson's counter-attacking brilliance from deep inside Eastside territory.

Eskridge's second try, 15 minutes into the second half, further extended Eastside's lead, showcasing their tactical acumen and execution precision. From a short penalty taken in by prop, Etu Lolohea the ball was recycled quickly and Clark popped to the flyhalf who dove over to claim the points. Chambers converted to take the score to 21-0.

Despite no further scores, the match was far from a lull, with both teams displaying moments of brilliance. Granite Bay's relentless pressure was met with a solid performance from Eastside, who emerged victorious with a 21-0 win.

The match was a testament to the skill, strategy, and spirit of rugby. Eastside's disciplined play and strategic mastery, coupled with standout performances from players like Chen, Holec, Clark, and Eskridge, were pivotal. Granite Bay, despite the defeat, displayed commendable tenacity and skill, contributing to a match that was a showcase of rugby at its finest. As the crowd dispersed, the buzz of an exceptional game lingered, a true testament to the sport's enduring allure at the varsity level.

—Jonny Chambers