The last game of the regular season was a great contest and spectacle for those who made it out to Plunkett Park on a warm Friday evening. Elmhurst, suffered a setback from prior to kickoff with news that number 8, Ben Semmelhack, was out injured with a foot injury susstained the Monday before aganst Chicago Blaze Academy in Lemont. The coaching staff decided to move placekicker and usual left wing, Ryan Blessing, who played a blinder, to the back of the scrum, promoting Nate Lyons to the back three.
The initial few minutes saw the Chiefs grow into the assendancy, taking advantage of poor discipline from Elmhurst, getting a foothold in the Elmhurst half through the boot of their touch finder. Elmhurst were asleep from the kick off and suffered the concession of an early try through a break off an attacking maul fro the Chiefs. Elmhurst had finally known what it was like to be under the kosh in the opening stanza of a match.
After some rousing words from the coaches and the skipper, Ben Bernard, Elmhurst applied the pressure but looked very flat in attack with forwards taking the ball very flat footed. In all fairness to the Chiefs, they tackled well and rallied at the rucks slowing down Elmhurst phase play and stealing ball from under cooked breakdowns. It looked like a real dog fight was going to ensue until flyhalf, Nick Bauer, took the ball, ghosting along the defesnive line of the Chiefs before making his cut and breaking away for Elmhurs's first try.
Elmhurst suffered the same fate throughout the game, poor discipline and passive play, even with the Chiefs reduced to 14 men for tne minutes with a yellow delivered for a high tackle. It wasn't until certain players took it upon themselves to get go forward ball in attack and make tackles denying gainline advances by the Chiefs that Elmhurst were able to go into the lead. These standout players included, Grand Melion, who was exceptional in attack and defense, his brother Ben Melion who was the lynchpin in a scrum that was humming for the first time this season and Ryan Costello ast scrumhalf who was a big hitter in defense and looked for optoions in attack very well.
Some other Elmhurst players were outstanding, including Gio Rodriguez, Nate Lyons and Danny Dunn in defense as well as Jake Smallwood, Toa Hofflich, who was sin binned for a high tackle in the last few minutes, and Ben Fett in recycling the ball. However, the Cheifs exploited a weakness of Elmhurst with the home team not committing enough bodies to the ruck. This is something that the team will have to address going forward. Jon Downing was his usal destructive self in attack with Patrick Cote playing at full back very intelligently. CJ Cote tackled and carried very well. The replacements, Ethan Foley and Danny Morrissey came on and did a fine job at their respective positions. Elmhurst managed to score three more tries, one through man of the match Grant Melion, one from his brother Ben Melion and one through wing Nate Lyons.
So, Elmhurst finished their second season in existence 5-0 in the regular season, a great achievement. There are plenty of work ons going forward but suffice it to say, the Green and Navy army are excited about the prospect of playoffs and a possibility of playing at the State Championships at Morton West High School on Memorial Day.
Elmhurst Starting XV 15. Patrick Cote, 14. Danny Dunn, 13. Gio Rodriguez, 12. Grant Melion, 11. Nate Lyons, 10. Nick Bauer, 9. Ryan Costello, 8. Ryan Blessing, 7. Jake Smallwood, 6. Toa Hofflich, 5. Ben Bernard, 4. Ben Fett, 3. Ben Melion, 2. John Donwing, 1. CJ Cote
Elmhurst Replacements 16. Ethan Foley, 17. Danny Morrissey