Coach’s Corner: NY State HS D1 Rugby Final; Xavier Coach Greg Norris, Pelham Coach Matt Persanis

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Coach’s Corner: NY State HS D1 Rugby Final; Xavier Coach Greg Norris, Pelham Coach Matt Persanis

NEW YORK, NY – After Xavier High School bested Pelham, to win the NY State Championships, we reached out to the respective coaches and heard back from both.

This is from -Xavier Head Coach Greg Norris:
“While the thunderstorms held off, the rain did not. Half time and the heavens opened causing the game to become very sloppy.

Xavier played a very structured % style of play with the occasional expansive play providing some exciting runs down the sideline.
Pelham defended the Xavier Mauls off the lineout extremely well, nullifying this platform and forcing the Xavier backs to have a go. Xavier #10, Kyle Strehle played a good kicking game in the first half and was instrumental in moving play around the field to open spaces.
Tries in the first half by #1 Waggoner, #13 Cilmi and 2 by #11Chiarovano put Xavier up 28 – 0 at half time.

And then it started to rain….
Xavier attempted to contain the game and play a little conservatively and shortly after the half tumbled over with a try by #4 Reyes.
However the rain continued and with the ball all over, fumbles and poor passes, Pelham pounced on one of those and intercepted to score  a 60 meter try against the run of play.

Credit to Pelham who while bent they did not break and managed to score two well executed plays off of midfield scrums. The first off a brilliant wrap around by the #9 who cruised through under the poles. The last with a minute to play, where the #13 speedster out flanked the Xavier defence and ran in a consolation.

Xavier win NY
Xavier Rugby

Final Score 35 – 21 to Xavier.

A good final with a Pelham team that is continuously improving and a Xavier Team that has proved to be not just an entertaining expansive attacking team but also a formidable defensive line.

Well played to both teams”.

And this is from Pelham’s Matt Persanis:
“Not sure what else to say really, its pretty accurate. From our point of view, I would have to mention that Xavier’s defense was fantastic. Throughout the season, whenever we got within 10 meters of the try zone… we almost always scored. In this match, though, that was not true. In fact Xavier repeated its performance from the Nationals by denying our side a score on several goal-line stances.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 3.04.26 PM
Pelham Rugby… Deborah Karson photo.

In the first half, we had the ball within the Xavier 10 for several phases a couple of times, coming away without points. In the second half they did the same, but for longer periods of time.

Although the score was 28-0 at half, it did not feel like that to us. We knew we missed some opportunities and allowed a couple of scores we would like back, so at half-time we discussed what to do and decided to get the ball in  the hands of our play-makers more, to see what we could do there. The first attempt resulted in a score by our #9 (Luke Persanis) off a scrum: #9 to #10 Cian Burns, back to Persanis on a wrap, who split the centers for a 30-meter try. Next was a rush defense causing a bobbled ball, our #13 Justin Johnson, picked it up and raced another 30-meters for another try. Finally, a long pass from #9 to #10, who skipped our #12 and got it to our #13.  Johnson raced around the defense to score an 80-meter try.

Also playing well for us was #7 Kevin Ndou and #8 North Westall.”

And there you have it. Told best by the architects of an exciting match and budding rivalry, which is a major positive for rugby.

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RWU Co-host Johnathan Wicklow Barberie is the contrived Kiwi rugby personality who can't go ANYWHERE without being asked for an autograph. He always obliges... Matt McCarthy handles the more serious interviews and handles the RWU Sports Desk.