The Plano 7/8 Grade Team took two games from North Texas rival Celina - the first was played away at Bobcat Stadium on March 18th and the second at the Predator home field at High Point on March 25th. However, the paths to victory in these two games were vastly different.
In the first match at Celina, the team opened strong as Ty Neves continued showing why he was one of last year's co-MVPs by running through the Celina defense for an early try. The conversion was unsuccessful leaving the Predators up 5 - 0.
Strong running from Celina's #8 kept the Predator defense honest by making several key breaks although solid tackling from Bryce Chatfield and James Laprocido were able to keep the Barbarians at bay. Unfortunately ball handling issues deep in the Predator half led to a Celina try as they capitalized on the error to notch the score at 5 - 5. In fact, it was a day where the Predators continually struggled to find the handle on the ball as the team squandered several scoring opportunities throughout the day. Regardless, Celina was not able to muster much more in the first half as Bryce Tucker and Plano captain James Knight continued to dog the Celina scrumhalf and flyhalf. The first half ended tied.
in the second half, the Predators did manage to get a better handle on the ball and put considerably more pressure on Celina. About 10 minutes in, James Laprocido was able to put down a try off a banger from a ruck about 10 meters out to put the Predators back up 10 - 5 as the conversion kick was off the mark. However, Celina was again able to capitalize off of a Predator mistake as one of their backs intercepted an errant pass to score an unconverted 50 meter try to notch things back up at 10 - 10.
With time running out, the team did not shrink but kept the pressure on Celina with their best efforts of the day. After several phases, Ty Neves was able to find James Knight wide who outpaced the Celina defense to put up the winning score. Knight also converted his kick and, as the whistle blew, the Predators had held on to win 17 - 10.
James Laprocido was deemed "man of the match" for a solid performance on both sides of the field including a key go-ahead try, strong rucking and open field tackling that kept the big Celina runners in check, and great play in the lineouts where he won all of his ball and most of Celina's.
Scoring: Tries (3) - Neves, Laprocido and Knight; Conversions (1) - Knight
Starting XV: Jacob Turner (1); Saul Gerstenfeld (2); Liam Carroll (3); Aenghus Denvir(4); David Hader (5); James Laprocido (6); Gavin Moncure (7); Bryce Chatfield (8); Bryce Tucker (9); James Knight (10); Connor Woodrick (11); Jamerion Sanford (12); Josh Seligsohn (13); Mia Balderas (14); Merrick Moncure (15)
The next week at High Point was a completely different story as the Predators scored early and often - in fact, the Plano 7/8's never moved the ball better! Quick rucks and multi-phase rugby were the order of the day as the entire Predators team shined. Bryce Chatfield had two beautiful assists as well as scoring a try himself. Stalwarts Arris Robinson and Josh Seligsohn both notched two tries. Bryce Tucker, again playing a great game on both sides of the ball, scored one with fullback Aiden Walls and winger Jonathan Williams both dotting down tries by outpacing the Celina defense on the edge. Aenghus Denvir added three conversions. Celina did manage to put one on the board late with a well-earned try by one of their speedy backs.
On the other side of the coin, the Predator defense all but shut down Celina. Scrum half Bryce Tucker and loose forwards Josh "Frenchy" Goff, Ty Girouard and James Laprocido harrassed the Barbarian back line all day while tight five players Rita Habib and David Hader doled out vicious hits. When the final whistle blew, it was all Predators 46 - 7.
David Hader was deemed "man of the match" with his dominant forward play - despite only playing a half! In fact, it was Hader who set the tone early with several great penalty runs (literally through the Barbarian pack) as well as firmly establishing Plano possession in the rucks.
Scoring: Tries (8) - Chatfield (1), Robinson (2), Seligsohn (2), Tucker (1), Walls (1), Williams (1); Conversions (3) - Denvir (3)
Starting XV: Jacob Turner (1), Arris Robinson (2), Victoria Balderas (3), Aenghus Denvir (4), David Hader (5), Ty Girouard (6), Josh Goff (7), James Laprocido (8), Bryce Tucker (9), Josh Seligsohn (10), Connor Woodrick (11), Bryce Chatfield (12), Liam Carroll (13), Jonathan Williams (14), Aiden Walls (15).
HOUSTON TOURNEY UPDATE
To maintain our practice of highlighting outstanding performance, the following players were recognized for their play in Houston on March 4th.
Game 1 "Man of the Match" (vs. Katy) - Jamerion Sanford
Game 2 "Man of the Match" (vs. Woodlands) - Bryce Tucker
Semifinal "Man of the Match" (vs. NTXB) - Merrick Moncure
Final "Man of the Match" (vs. Woodlands) - James Knight
"Man of the Tournament" - Jamerion Sanford
Although the tournament was truly a team win, Jamerion continues to impress with his play on both sides of the ball. Well done!