A bright, breezy afternoon matched the spirits of the Blackthorn supporters gathered at today’s Pelican Cup rematch. The team rewarded their attendance with an entertaining exhibition of north/south running rugby.
Blackthorn players taking the field for opening kickoff were:
1. Jim Andrewuicz
2. Rob Wahls
3. Brandon Walker
4. Max Bluestein
5. Josh Taormino
6. Vince Umile
7. Travis Cliburn
8. Ryan Sweeney
9. Jerry Fillman
10. Ernest Pearson (C)
11. Phil Shanks
12. Jaron Ellison
13. Billy Freeman
14. Tony Kinsey
15. Rob Vollrath
Players making themselves available for substitution were: Nick McShane, Zach Mc Geary, Shane Schrader, Chase Preston, Derrick Morton.
Blackthorn kicked-off and wasted no time pressuring the Hibernians within their 22-meter line due to Captain “E” blocking an attempted clearing kick. After multiple phases and restarts, E continued the show by dishing a lovely back-handed pass to Jaron who touched down between the posts for his first try of the match at 2:42. Rob V. made no mistake with his conversion and Blackthorn jumped to an early lead.
E continued his magic show by recycling a ball while being tackle, resulting in Billy scoring between the posts at 7:03, and again Rob was flawless with his kicking.
Blackthorn forwards relentlessly moved and recycled the ball in a north/south direction, ultimately freeing Ryan for a wonderful downfield run. After the final recycle, E continued displaying his imagination with a clever pop-kick that enabled Jaron to collect his second try of the match at 11:06, with Rob converting.
Jaron’s appetite for glory was insatiable, and at 14:46 he again touched down between the posts. This try was courtesy of Blackthorns defense when they executed repeated rapid-fire tackles until Jim was able to recover the ball and feed our backline. Rob’s conversion was good.
Brandon displayed quick thinking on the ensuing kick-off, which fell a bit short of the required 10 meters. Without missing a step, he gathered the ball and accelerated past the defense, and was unlucky not to score before being trundled into touch as the 22.
The Hibo’s worked through several phases after the ensuing lineout, when they were finally able to launch a clearing kick downfield that did not find touch. Big mistake. Rob V. scooted back to recover the ball around midfield, dodged a few defenders and ultimately Jaron scored his 4’th try at 18:53.
The Hibo’s had been working hard all match and were finally rewarded with a converted try at 23:42.
The next passage of play saw Christmas come early for Jim, who stole a Hibernian lineout by simply raising his arms. The backs didn’t waste his theft, and our dynamic duo of Billy/Jaron exchanged countless passes between them with Jaron finally touching down at 27:53. (If you’re keeping track at home, you’ll know that was his 5’th). Robs conversion rate remained at 100%.
Phil had been playing an unbelievable game at an unfamiliar position, and his pop-pass out of a tackle to Billy enabled Vince to score in the corner at 30:37. Vince can claim credit for scoring the first try by a Blackthorn forward in 2021, but the challenging touchline angle thwarted Rob’s conversion attempt.
Blackthorn soon found themselves backed up only 10 meters from the Hibo’s try line. They showed great derring-do by launching a scrumhalf break from the base of their scrum. Ryan’s feed to Jerry was flawless, and Jerry’s subsequent 90-meter jaunt downfield was extraordinary. In this writers’ opinion that was Blackthorn’s single greatest display of aggressive, running rugby this season. Rob did not waste the opportunity and added another conversion to his total.
The Hibernians closed the first half by scoring a converted try at 38:40 from a penalty.
Captain “E” was able to begin second-half scoring at 12:56, though he did have to earn his passage in-goal by selling multiple dummy passes and side-steps. Rob made no mistake with his conversion.
The Hibo’s were able to score an unconverted try at 22:23, and a converted try at 26:23 to end the match.
There was absolutely no question regarding Man of the Match honors with Jaron deservedly being awarded the jacket. This launched an amusing sequence of conversations among tenured supporters about his 5 tries tying the club record held by Stu McClay, Al Rugroch, and Pat Dufner. (Yes, yes, I know, but that last name is not a misprint). The bigger question is who, on any team, has ever scored 5 tries in 28 minutes of play?
Special recognition should be made of Tony and Phil, who stepped up when asked to serve by playing wing. Though neither had a history of playing wing, nor are either blessed with an abundance of speed, they took it upon themselves to rewrite the “Wing Handbook”. Both displayed terrific support instincts and refused to allow any loss of momentum during a Blackthorn attack.
Blackthorn closes out their Spring 2021 season next week at Elkins Park when they host Wilkes-Barre. The boys will be looking to avenge their loss from a few weeks ago, so please make every effort to come out and support the side.