FARMINGTON, N.M. September 29, 2009 -- A 62-7 blowout was the furthest thing from the minds of a lean pack of New Mexico Tech rugby players making the trip to play the San Juan Silverbacks Saturday. At least it would seem so, considering the Pygmies showed up in Farmington with the minimum compliment of 15 players. But the absence of reserves a week after a heartbreaking 28-19 home loss to the Santa Fe Santos seemed to kick the students’ efforts up several notches to produce their best overall performance to date.
The Tech Rugby Club (5-2) travels to Flagstaff on Saturday, Oct. 3, for the two-day Northern Arizona 10-man tournament. Tech will be competing in the major college division following two consecutive small-college championships.
|Tech rugby co-captain Bart Hegarty takes the ball into contact in his team’s 62-7 win over the San Juan Silverbacks in Farmington on Saturday, Sept. 26. Marcus Chavez and Nick McCarthy prepare to support Hegarty’s run after stealing the ball from an opponent (on ground). Photo courtesy of Patrick Hegarty
Answering the call Saturday from a team thinned by academic obligations, veteran Pygmies Nick McCarthy and Justin Guthrie shrugged off the dust of their own recent inactivity to help spark a Tech maelstrom.
The Silverbacks kicked off the first 40 minutes in sunny and windless conditions. The teams were evenly matched as ball possession alternated between them, with hard tackles going in on both sides.
After nine minutes Tech flanker and forward captain Bart Hegarty alertly pounced on a loose ball and his fellow forwards swooped in to secure possession. The ball came to 6’4” number eight forward Matt “Moose” Kretz, who broke a tackle and flew toward the Silverback try line. Kretz made a short pass to team captain Jay Herrera as he was tackled, and the shifty scrumhalf covered the remaining distance untouched. Herrera’s after-try conversion kick went straight through the goalposts and Tech led, 7-0.
San Juan fought back mostly through hard runs by their beefy forwards, and after 16 minutes18-year-old James Pierce rocketed his stocky frame through three would-be Tech tacklers to score from 20 yards out. The conversion kick was successful to knot the scores.
One-quarter of the way through the match Tech simply shifted into a higher gear. When the Silverbacks gave away a penalty close to their own line, Royce Beaudry, in his first game at flyhalf (first back), quickly put the ball in play and charged forward, crashing over the line to ground the ball before half the San Juan team knew what was happening. Again Herrera’s kick completed the seven-point play.
Four minutes later Beaudry repeated the tactic when the Silverbacks were whistled for offside, this time feeding a pass for galloping inside center Nick Aldape to launch his 6’2” frame horizontally while being tackled to score a try near the touch (out of bounds) line. Herrera missed the kick from a steep angle but Tech led 19-7.
With each score Tech was required to kick off, but Tech’s sure and aggressive leg-tackles had the Silverbacks dazed and confused. Five minutes before halftime San Juan flyhalf Grant Fox tried kicking over the blue Pygmy line, where wing Mason Timm fielded the ball and ran before passing to Isaiah Sanchez. Tech’s dangerous fullback eluded several tacklers before passing off to Kretz, himself enjoying a splendid afternoon of running and passing rugby. Kretz eventually linked with the ever-present Herrera, who dotted down the ball before kicking the conversion for a 26-7 halftime lead.
The second half was more of the same. Tech’s forwards continuously won the close encounters while running and tackling, with flanker Marcus Chavez, lock Jerod Aragon, and recent Gallup High School star Jericho Montano figuring prominently for Tech. Mason Timm scored two determined tries in the first 10 minutes, and then it was Chavez’s turn from a ruck close to San Juan’s line to remove all doubts at Tech 43, San Juan 7.
The final 20 minutes saw Tech reach the 50-point mark as Nick Aldape thundered nearly the length of the paddock before feeding Beaudry to finish the job. The agony continued for San Juan as freshman outside center Marshal Spradley dove in after a pass from Aldape, and finally concluded with Beaudry’s third try of the afternoon on a characteristic bolt straight up the field.
Herrera, of Laguna, N.M., succeeded on six of 10 try conversion kicks in addition to his two five-point tries. In a match brimming with outstanding play for Tech, Mason Timm was awarded Man of the Match honors by his teammates.
– NMT –
By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director