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It was derby weekend in the Red River Rugby Conference, with the Huns and Blacks battling it out and the Reds and Harlequins facing off as well. The Blacks got a big 48-10 win over the Huns, and the Reds pulled out a close victory over the Harlequins, 36-30.
For the Blacks, Saturday’s match was one in a long rivalry between the two clubs. History was on the side of the Blacks going in, and the and they aimed to add another win to the tally.
“The mindset is what it always is. We have never lost to them in the 40-plus-year history, so the boys are always determined to keep that record,” said Tane Jericevich. “It was a great day for rugby.”
In total, over 1,000 specators gathered to watch the clubs compete, and the Blacks put on a display with effective offense and disciplined defense. According to Jericevich, his players kept the defensive structure tight on Saturday to shut down the Huns’ offense.
“The Huns play a very simple, direct game,” he said. “So, we just needed to make sure our defense around the fringes and line speed were there. We knew if we put them under pressure in these areas we would stop them getting front-foot ball.”
The offense was as solid as the defense for the Blacks on Saturday. The forwards put in the hard yards to set the stage, followed by the backs sealing the deal and putting points on the board. Despite winning by a large margin and successfully kicking five of seven conversions, the execution of the Blacks’ attacks wasn’t perfect.
According to Jericevich, his players missed out on some scoring opportunities and left a number of points on the board. Zac Mizell, Chris Baumann, Tyler Terrazone, Mark Brewerton, Patrick Sullivan, Christopher Parker and Matthew Radzavich put in tries for the Blacks on Saturday.
The Blacks will work towards improving even further this week as players prepare for next week’s challenge from Houston Athletic.
The Dallas Reds also remained local for this weekend’s match against the Harlequins. It was a close contest at the end, and the Reds were playing with depleted ranks. With the two teams battling on local soil the match was sure to be an exciting affair.
“We were missing some key players and knew the Harlequins would bring it in the rivalry match,” said Filip Keuppens of the Reds. “And they certainly didn’t disappoint.”
The match was nip and tuck the entire way Saturday. The Reds and Harlequins were level with one another going into halftime, with reach team putting 12 points on the board. Daron Liebenberg started the scoring for the day and opened his team’s account with a try in the fifth minute. Deon Anderson successfully converted to bring his team’s score to seven. Imilius Keyser added another five towards the end of the opening half. In the dying minutes of the opening half, the Reds got on the board. Dale Russ and Spencer Cameron put in back-to-back tries, and Dale Klump added one successful conversion to even the scores.
As the second half progressed, the Reds put some distance between the two teams. At one point, the Reds had a 33-15 lead over the Harlequins, but the match was far from decided. In the second half, the Harlequins slotted a set of penalty kicks and put in two tries, with one conversion, to get within three of the Reds. Anderson slotted the penalty kicks and conversion for the Harlequins, while Liebenberg and Travis Stubbs put in the tries.
Unfortunately for the Harlequins, the Reds eked out the victory. Blake Boulton, Chad Joseph and Russ scored tries in the second half for the victors. Klump went three-for-three on the conversions in the second half and tacked on a penalty kick to ensure his team kept the edge at the end.
Though the Reds got the win, it came at a cost. Early on in the match the Reds lost centers Paul Eteaki, and Kelly Kolberg, who went off just after the 20th minute. Tucker Shaw and Chris Slater came on for the injured players and helped secure the victory. Fortunately for the Reds, the team has the next weekend off. According to Keuppens, the hope is that his injured players will be healed up in time for a big match with the Austin Blacks in two weeks.