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Three teams ended Friday 2-0 at the High School Rugby
Challenge at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Pride (DC), West Shore
United (Pa.) and South Meck (N.C.) are undefeated and squarely atop their
Pool B, however, is deadlocked with all Malvern Prep, the New Jersey Blaze, Gonzaga and St. Joe's Prep all at 1-1. The Saturday match-ups in that pool see Malvern Prep take on St. Joe's and the Blaze take on Gonzaga. All four teams showed flashes on Friday, and all struggled to play quality sevens (keep the ball out of contact, spread the field, etc.) at other times.
The Blaze, with players from Delbarton, Union County and Morris, had showed more fluidity and continuity in their second game together.
"Mostly we passed the ball around more, found our speed and got more familiar with moving the ball instead of just pounding it in the center, which I guess doesn't work in 7s," said the Blaze's Jake Zimmerman, who is looking forward to the Gonzaga meeting on Saturday. "I heard they're good. We just beat the team that beat them, so anything can happen."
West Shore United, from Harrisburg, Pa., won both of their Pool C games by a razor-thin margin, beating both Kennesaw Mountain (Ga.) and Berkshire (Mass.) by just seven points. The 24-17 win over Kennesaw was won by a try at the death. The team seems to be enjoying the new competition they're facing, but are keeping their fingers crossed for a rematch with cross-state rival Downingtown from the 15s season.
"I think we're one of the better teams in the state and getting other teams from other areas is definitely good competition. It's definitely not what I was expecting. I didn't think there was going to be this many teams, this much diversity of teams. A lot bigger than I thought," said West Shore captain Austin Hoover.
"We lost our state game by one point to Downingtown, and they're actually here, too, so if we were able to meet up with them again and see how it turned out, it would be pretty cool."
The most impressive team from day one was Pride of Pool D. They were faster and more physical than any team in the competition, and their 48-14 outscoring of both the South Side Irish and Burrell is evidence. Tulsa Union (Okla.) was also very competitive, playing the South Side Irish, comprised of players from several different clubs, to a tie. If Union falls to Pride on Saturday and the Irish hold fort against Burrell, secon-place in the pool could be decided by point differential.
South Meck had to work for its 2-0 billing in Pool A, edging out local Downingtown 12-5 and New York 19-7. If the Tigers can beat Salesianum, the winner of Downingtown and New York will likely advance.