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As sevens came to a close this weekend, four high-scoring matches were scattered across the Midwest for the second game of the season. Metropolis earned a road win over the Chicago Lions, Cincinnati took down the Griffins in Chicago, the Kansas City Blues defeated Columbus, and Milwaukee ran past Palmer at home.
The Lions followed very strong 7s and 15s campaigns with an opening weekend blowout win, but were humbled a bit by Metropolis in a 38-32 home loss in Chicago, Ill. on Saturday.
Chicago jumped on top six minutes in with a penalty kick from #10 Matt Hundley. Metropolis seized the lead with the game’s first try from wing Carter Beelman nine minutes later, then Simeon Tschumper and Trace Bolstad followed up at 20’ and 24’ for a 17-3 lead. A penalty kick by Brian Ptomey with eight minutes to go gave Metropolis the 20-3 advantage at halftime.
The Lions got back into it by drawing first blood in the second stanza via an Ethan Porter try, then Jacob Hidalgo followed up at 56’ to close the gap to 20-15. Chicago really made things interesting with another try from Eric Williams after a Metropolis PK to make the game 23-20 with 16 minutes to play. That’s when both offenses heated up for a thrilling final 15 minutes.
Chicago took the lead with an Eric Rose try, Metropolis answered with a try from captain Ekapatalisio Veamatahau, then Chicago scored to go up again 32-30. Another Ptomey PK swung the lead once again with minutes to play, this time for good. Bolstad scored the crucial insurance try to extend the lead as Chicago’s last offensive attack went begging and Metropolis sealed the 38-32 win.
“I thought we played a solid first half,” Metropolis coach Rob Holder said about the win. “We stuck to our gameplan and played with intensity and discipline. Then we let ourselves down a bit with discipline; had a couple yellow cards. We struggled a bit and let them back in the game. At the end, we gathered ourselves and squeaked one out, but it was extremely challenging. The Lions are very good. We pulled it out by the skin of our teeth.”
Metropolis will try to keep the good momentum rolling next week against the Palmer Dragons. The Lions meanwhile hope to get back to its winning ways against the crosstown rival Griffins.
The Blues rode a potent offense and strong defense to a 41-31 home victory over Columbus in Kansas City, Mo. It wasn’t easy, as Kansas City had to rebound from a 14-0 deficit after Riekert Hattingh and Daejon Street scored for Columbus in the first 20 minutes of play.
Flyhalf Michael Mercer got the Blues on the board with a penalty kick at 20’, Columbus extended its lead with another Hattingh try, then flanker Richard Korvick notched the Blues’ first try. Columbus responded with a Joseph Schroeder try and with 30 minutes in, the visitors still held a strong 26-8 lead. Blues’ lock Matt Wirkin scored a critical try just before half, Mercer converted and the lead was cut to 26-15 heading into the break.
The Blues scored first in the second half from center Cody Weber as the comeback was on with the Blues down 26-22. Wing Blake Baty gave Blues its first lead in the 57' at 27-26. With the momentum, KC didnt let up and reserve wing Evan Ernstmann quickly made his presence felt with a try, converted by Mercer, to extend the lead to 34-26. Weber struck again at 75’ pretty much sealing up the victory. Columbus fought through to the end with Roland Suniula notching a try for the game’s final margin of 41-31.
“Our pack played well, and we had a number of breaks form our centers,” Kansas City coach Scott Kram explained about the win. “I was very proud of our first-season players on the wings, who ran with authority and made some game-saving tackles.” Kram pointed to lock Matt Wirkin as his man of the match. Wirkin played with physicality on both sides of the ball. “Matt kept the Columbus defense honest with hard running and had a number of turnovers at the breakdown.”
The Blues will look for more of the same performances next week against the Milwaukee Barbarians, while Columbus will try to rebound in Cincinnati against the Wolfhounds.
A strong platform in the scrum enabled some excellent backline play for the Milwaukee Barbarians as they stormed past Palmer 51-33. The Barbarians didn't waste any time as they pillaged the Dragon defense for five tries in the opening 24 minutes. Wing Tim Ash sped to a hat trick, while #10 Joe Gardener and hooker Joe Grams got in on the try party for the 33-0 lead. Two Dragons’ tries by Gareth Lourens made a dent in the lead as the half ended at 33-12.
Both squads traded tries back and forth to begin the second half as Palmer's Glen Maricelli and Dominic Schultz and Milwaukee's Ash and Jeff Cebe made the tally 45-26 with 25 minutes to play. The Dragons fought back with Terry Laursen try, but Nick Vidger shut the door on any comeback with two penalties for the 51-33 win.
In Chicago, Ill., the Cincinnati Wolfhounds won 36-26 holding off a late surge by Chicago Griffins in the last ten minutes. William Whitehead (2), Ryan Grote (2), Greg Higgins, and Rashad Finley each scored for the Wolfhounds and Ryan Guercio slotted three conversions.
“Our back play was extremely good,” said Cincinnati coach Daryl Rice. “We had all the tries scored by the backs, except for one. We moved the ball well. It was a tough match. But, we did really well in our set pieces, our scrums were solid, lineouts were much improved, and our backs were awesome.”
The Wolfhounds had three tries scored off of scripted plays from the back of the scrum through the day. Rice pointed to his new nine and ten battery of William Whitehead and Ryan Frentzel as key performers on the day. “Those two played really well,” he explained.
Alexander is a beat reporter for Rugby Today, published author, freelance sports writer and club rugby player for the Potomac Exiles. For more rugby action and his sports takes, follow him on Twitter @alexanderdiegel.