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West Shore Wins Rugby PA HS Club Final

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West Shore Wins Rugby PA HS Club Final

Lisa Schlager photo.

Susquehanna Conference powers Berks County and West Shore United met on the campus of Penn State University’s Berks County campus Saturday to battle it out for the Rugby Pennsylvania Division 1 Club State Championship this past weekend.

This would be a rematch of an earlier league game, one in which Berks County defeated West Shore United 38-31 on the final play of their week 4 Susquehanna Conference match. To get to the championship match Berks, the #2 seed, defeated #3 seed Downingtown of the Valley Forge Conference 34-22 in one semifinal, while #4 seed West Shore United, defeated #1 seed Doylestown from the Liberty Bell Conference 60-7 in the other semifinal. 

(Lisa Schlager photos)

Berks County would control the opening seven minutes of the match by camping out inside the West Shore 22. West Shore managed to keep Berks out of the try zone with solid team defense and seemed to be out of danger when flyhalf Colin Brassel’s clearance kick pushed Berks back to mid field.  The Berks pressure did not let up, however, as they worked through the phases off the kick before flanker Shaheed Warren made a line break and touched down from 40 meters out. The try was converted and Berks led 7-0 at the eight-minute mark.  

West Shore responded by putting immediate pressure on Berks off the kick off causing a turnover inside the 22. Shortly after the turnover Berks were penalized for a ruck infraction and West Shore’s Jack Quesenberry slotted the first of his four penalty kicks on the day to get West Shore on the board at the eleven-minute mark. West Shore would immediately go back on attack and put pressure on the Berks defense. Berks struggled to adapt to the referee and were penalized again. Quesenberry made them pay with a solid strike from 35 meters out to cut the lead to 7-6. The next several minutes were back and forth with both teams struggling to adapt to the referee and struggling to keep possession. West Shore would settle down first as their forwards started to dominate set pieces and loose play causing Berks to lose discipline and commit more penalties. West Shore scrum half Jonah Roth quick tapped and ran through several attempted tackles to get deep into Berks territory.

Berks was penalized again and Roth quick tapped from five meters out where an offside Berks County player tackled him. The referee awarded a penalty try for the infraction and West Shore took their first lead of the day  at the twenty-three minute mark 13-7. Berks would strike back two minutes later after West Shore knocked on the restart inside their 22. Berks pressured and drew a hands in the ruck penalty five meters out. They quick tapped and passed to prop Sal Pugliese who plowed through the West Shore defense to touch down and cut the lead to 13-12.  West Shore would close out the half with one more Quesenberry penalty goal to go into halftime with a 16-12 lead.

West Shore would seize momentum immediately off the restart kick of the second half. Senior JT Hammond poached the ball at the first breakdown and quick hands from prop Damon James and #8 Matt Carrion put flanker Evan Wilkins through a gap where he was tackled high right before he touched down.  A penalty try was awarded and West Shore found themselves up by eleven points. Another Quesenberry penalty goal pushed the lead to 26-12 with fifteen minutes remaining. Matt Carrion’s try with ten minutes remaining clinched the victory for West Shore. Berks would score a consolation try inside the final minute but it was too little too late and West Shore United walked away with the Rugby Pennsylvania Division 1 Club State Championship. The final score West Shore United 33 Berks County 17.