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Neuqua To Illinois Final

HS Boys

Neuqua To Illinois Final

Lori Chevalier photo.

The Neuqua Wildcats defeated Marist 26-12 to reach the final of the Rugby Illinois Boys HS playoffs.

The match started with a little back-and-forth through the first three minutes. A penalty against Marist about 30 meters from the Neuqua tryline provided the 1st early opportunity for Neuqua as the home side went wide with ball in hand on the quick tap.  Winger Garen Leland brought possession back to midfield and then Neuqua crossed into Marist territory on a short rumble up the five-meter line by second row forward Eric Rice.  Neuqua shipped the ball to the far sideline in two phases and caught Marist without coverage on wing Brandt Stare, who did the rest to go in under the sticks from 40 meters out. Will Chevalier converted and Neuqua led 7-0.

(Photos top to bottom: Rudy Dedeaux for Nequa, Will Chevalier, Brandt Stare, Sean Larkin. All photos by Lori Chevalier.)

After the restart, both sides traded blows back and forth at midfield before Marist exploited an overload. The Neuqua cover defense was up to the task and halted the advance at it's 22. Leland then picked off a Marist pop pass and regained the lost territory and then some before the Marist cover reeled him in at their 22. From there, after a drive by the Neuqua forwards that drew the midfield defense in, Chevalier shot the gap from just inside the Marist 22 to go through under the posts. The center converted his own try and it was 14-0.

Marist did well to respond quickly and took advantage of a couple penalties to work deep inside the Neuqua 22, ultimately crossing the line but held up in-goal. Undeterred, the Marist pack was able to punch it in from the scrum to put themselves on the board. Neuqua 14-5.

the next 10 minutes saw play swing back and forth between the 22s, with each side having its chances. From a knock-on by Marist at the about the Neuqua 22, Stare scoped up the loose ball and outpaced everybody for his second try of the day. Chevalier added the extras to make it 21-5.

The first half closed out with the balance of the last 15 minutes seeing Marist camped inside the Neuqua 22, and up a man due to a yellow card. But Marist couldn't break through.

They broke through in the second half, though. Marist held the majority of possession in the first few minutes of the second period, and scored after a passage of play in which the Marist attack had 17 consecutive phases, followed by another 10, all inside the Neuqua 22 and much of it inside the Neuqua 5. The conversion was good and Neuqua's lead was down to 21-12.

After just 90 seconds, Neuqua responded by stealing possession at a breakdown. After some hard charging runs from the Neuqua forwards, Chevalier went through for his second tryand a 26-12 lead.

The final 27 minutes saw Marist with the lion's share of possession including three series with more than a dozen phases, each inside Neuqua territory.  The Neuqua defense held firm and was able to clear the ball away to touch on the final play of the match.