14 April 2017
Elmhurst Rugby played their first home match as hosts to the Chicago Blaze. A larger and more senior club, Chicago Blaze showed experience in rucks and recycled the ball into multiple phases throughout much of the first half. The heavy rain did not deter either side who battled incredibly tough with enormous hits and tackles.
Elmhurst boys defended the breakdowns well, but the Blaze consistently crossed the gain line and quickly recycled the ball after each ruck. Blaze were in command of the first half and kept Elmhurst scoreless.
The second half proved different as Elmhurst better dissected how to defeat the Blaze, as well as increased their level of intensity. Elmhurst consistently provided the first hit before the Blaze could cross the gain line, but arm tackles allowed the Blaze to continue sneaking across the gain line.
In a masterful play in the middle of the second half, Ryan Blessing recognized the Blaze were not defending the ruck. Blessing took the ball quickly from an un-contested ruck at the midfield line and evaded multiple tacklers right through the middle of the field, ultimately outrunning defenders in pursuit and diving across the try line with outstretched body to earn Elmhurst five points. Blessing did not convert the try.
Motivated by the last score, Alex Swintek moments later received a pass from a ruck also near the midfield line. Breaking tackle after tackle, Swintek charged forward with multiple defenders attempting to catch him. After the last ankle tackle did not stop him, Swintek crossed the try line and centered the ball nicely between the posts before grounding the ball. Blessing converted the try to bring Elmhurst score to 12.
Blaze continued their aggressive play after the restart and when on the 5 meter line, Elmhurst boys put on a defensive stand that earned the respect of all watching. Notable performance from this weekend included Giovanni Rodriguez with his leadership, consistent aggressive play on defense and hard running on attack. Other notable performances included Nicholas Bauer and Patrick Carr (Narwhal) who routinely defended the breakdown by themselves and often against forwards much larger in size.
Final score was 42-12, Chicago Blaze. ‘Man of the Match’ awarded to Patrick Carr.