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Harlequin Holds Off Germantown in Tennessee HS Final

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Harlequin Holds Off Germantown in Tennessee HS Final

The Harlequins find some room against Germantown. Photo Lucinda White.

Harlequin Rugby defeated Germantown 30-22 to win the Tennessee Rugby HS Boys final.

Germantown's imposing forwards put Harlequin Rugby on their heels early in the game, and within the first two minutes had broken through for a 50-meter breakaway for a converted try and a 7-0 lead. The issue for Harlequin Rugby was that they hadn't played as many ranked teams as had Germantown. Big, physical, and well-tested, Germantown looked like they might roll over Harlequin.

But a try from wing Chris Stanley, capping off a well-worked team movement, turned that momentum around.

Germantown replied with sustained pressure in the Harlequin end and were rewarded with another try under the posts to go make it 14-5. Once again Harlequin steadied themselves, this time with captain and flyhalf Sacha Martiny slotting a penalty from in front of the posts to make it 14-8. Germantown got the ball back after the restart and pummeled the Harlequin defense in the latter part of the first half. Harlequin held on during the onslaught, and somehow got out of trouble. Martiny made a break and after a long run fed flanker Elliot Christoph who went in under the posts. It was a shocking turnaround as Germantown looked for all money ready to put the hammer down. Instead, with the conversion, Harlequin led 15-14.

But Harlequin paid for it. Martiny broke his wrist as he made that offload and had to be replaced. With prop Jackson Reilly having to subbed off because of a bad ankle.

Germantown started to lose discipline in the second half and were yellow carded for high tackles and a dump tackle. With Harlequin keeping composed thanks to the leadership of seniors Toby Hottes, Isaac Mitchell, Jason Arden, Elliot Christoph, Journey Keen, and Daniel Helton in the forwards. They made all their tackles and secured possession after forcing turnovers, with junior flanker Tom Stucharski adding several line breaks.

While the forwards doing the work in the the trenches, a patched-together backline starting to find some attacking room. Seniors Cody Trussel, Hank White, Matt Martin, Armon Raghazzi, Charlie Gomez, Nathan Crawford and Chris Stanley were outsized by Germantown but had speed and quickness. Cup MVP Max Ponce rose to the occasion though and filled the playmaker role for Harlequin. Ponce's attitude of doing whatever the team needs was on display as he started the day at hooker and ended up playing scrumhalf for the second half.

Ponce scored the Harlequin third try, and made the conversions, on a nifty show-and-go from the back of the ruck to put Harlequin Rugby ahead 22-14. A few minutes later, the Harlequin backline put Chris Stanley away for his second try of the game to make it 27-14 with 15 minutes to go.

Germantown did not go quietly and chipped away at the lead with a penalty goal and then a try in the corner with five minutes to go to make it 27-22. Now behind by only a try, Germantown made their move to get that final try. But the Harlequin defense was solid and didn't allow anyone through. Finally Harlequin turned the ball over, marched into Germantown territory and got a penalty in front of the posts. Ponce slotted the kick to make it a two-score game at 30-22, and that's how it ended.

"This will be a game those boys will remember fondly and draw strength from for the rest of their lives," said Harlequin Program Director and Coach Scott Reagan. "They overcame significant adversity and showed tremendous character and personal courage. Hats off to Germantown for providing that level of competition within Tennessee. They say sport either builds or reveals character. This was a great day for our sport in Tennessee and character development in our players. The entire Harlequin coaching staff—Dave Christensen, Gil Filbey, Ryan Galbreath—could not be prouder of the effort or happier with the result."