Fox Valley Maori 48 vs Chicago Rugby Club 15
The first weekend in September saw the Maori match up with CRC, the cool early fall morning quickly warming to a perfect 70 degrees for the 11 am kick off. Fox Valley made an early mistake and let the opening kick-off roll into touch 10 meters from their line, and were forced to manage some early pressure as they struggled to gain any territory or possession during the first ten minutes of the match.
Once Fox Valley managed to move into the CRC half the scoring moved quickly with an opening 50 meter scamper by winger Ryan Porkorney at the 13 minute mark, which opened up a quick series of scores. CRC’s ensuing kick-off failed to travel 10 meters giving the Maori a great set piece opportunity in the mid-field. They quickly moved the ball to Luke Dahleen who set up Porkorney again on a wonderful switch for the second try of the match. The third try followed shortly thereafter, as CRC switched back to a deep kick off, which the Maori quickly moved through the hands to switch the field. Fullback Nick Belis broke through the defensive line eventually linking up with Dan Miller who would take the ball over the white wash at the 18th minute. This sudden burst of scoring took the Maori up 17-3 in just five short minutes
It looked like the flood gates had opened, and the game threatened to turn into a track meet, however CRC showed their mettle and tightened up their defense. The remaining twenty minutes of the first half would see the Maori dominate possession, and generally enjoy a good run of play, but put in two more tries complements of Cody Crawford and Luke Dahleen. With a one-sided 29-3 score line at the half the teams retired to their oranges and half time speeches from their coaches.
The Maori first half dominance was not to continue into the second half. CRC came out motivated, determined to work their way back into the game. A period of good play and pressure in the Maori half ensued, although the defense would bend, and penalties were conceded CRC was not able to find their way over the try line in the opening phases. During the 57th minute the scoring would be started by a Fox Valley winger, this time seeing John Gilmore Hildebrand taking the ball on a counter attack and weaving his way through the defense to score from deep in his own half. This piece of individual skill was marred at the end, by a high tackle from CRC at the line, and the reaction from the Maori full back coming to his teammate’s aid. The ensuing incident saw the Maori go a man down as their full back was sent off with a yellow card for his actions.
CRC now a man up, and more determined than ever again marched their way down the field toward the Maori line. They would finally get their reward as one of their replacement props proved unstoppable on a crash from the five meter line, taking the score to 34-8 at the 63rd minute. Having seen how it could be done the Maori responded quickly, with their own try from the replacement tight head prop Dave Lyon, who busted through defenders on a forward crash to respond just three minutes later. Nothing inspires a prop so much as scoring a try, and David Lyon turned it on to finish out the game, scrumming well and running hard. So much so that the final Maori highlight of the day would see him crash through the CRC defense and rumble through the mid-field taking the ball some 50 meters, until, out the generosity often only found in the front row, he slowed his pace down enough for a struggling wing to catch up and passed the ball off to Gil whom he allowed to take the ball the final 25 meters in for a score at the 76th minute.
CRC to their credit never gave up the fight, and would once again get their word, and have the final comment in a hard fought match, finding one more try in the closing minute, and bringing the final score line to 48-15.
Man of the Match – David Lyon – He came on at tight head prop in the 60th minute and immediately made a huge impact. Dominant in scrums, he was a devastating runner with ball in hand.
Walter Daniels Hard Hat – Dan Miller – playing at blindside flanker Dan’s high work rate on defense saw him leading the team in tackles and regularly stifling the CRC attack behind the gain line.
Ryan Pokorney – Tries 2 (13,16)
Dan Miller – Try (18)
Cody Crawford – Try (26), Conversions 2/3
Luke Dahleen – Try (35)
John Gilmore Hildebrand – Tries 2 (57, 76)
David Lyon – Try (66)
Patrick Sullivan – Conversions 2/5
Andrew Vyhnanek – YC (58)