Herriman Smothers Highland In Rugby Championship

Elijah Straight, Editor-In-Chief

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Highland Rugby’s dreams of taking back the number one spot in Utah High School Rugby were dashed Saturday as they fell to top seeded Herriman by a final score of 52-28.  The road to the championship was no walk in the park either for the Rams, who faced close games to both Westlake in the first round, and second seeded Snow Canyon in the second round.  This championship game was also a rematch of the Rams’ very first game of the year in which the Rams defeated Herriman by a single conversion, with a final score of 29-27.

The game started out with Herriman recovering their own opening kick off.  After passing around the Highland defense they were able to open the scoring early, scoring a try in the 9th minute, making the score 5-0 for the Mustangs after the conversion attempt was no good.  Herriman then followed up this initial try after a Highland turnover turned into quick points for the Mustangs, scoring another try only four minutes later, making the score 12-0 following the successful conversion attempt.

At this point Highland looked to respond to being down two tries early in the match.  Following the kickoff, the Rams offense got going, pushing their way down to the try zone following a burst of speed by Ezequiel Garcia.  However, the Rams got held up in the try zone not one, not two, but three times, resulting in three different scrums.  Finally, on the third try, the Rams managed to push their way into the try zone and fall down for a try, chipping into the lead held by Herriman.  A made conversion attempt made the score 12-7.  Highland then followed this up with another try after recovering the ball off an inbound play, leading to a quick break and score giving the Rams their first advantage of the game, up 14-12 with around 15 minutes left in the half.

Highland then looked to extend even further, after repelling a Herriman attack and drop kicking the ball out of their own try zone, launching a break away.  However, this break away was shut down after a careless foul was committed during a ruck near midfield, which put the ball back into the hands of the Mustangs.  Herriman then made good use of their flank players, and pounded it down the sideline.  The Rams then committed another penalty, this time deep in their own territory, which Herriman capitalized on, retaking the lead 19-14 with under three minutes left in the half.  With only a short amount of time left in the half,  the Rams charged back down the field toward the Mustang try zone.  Ruck after ruck ensued as the Rams tried to pound their way into the try zone before time expired.  After one of these rucks, a Herriman player was given a yellow card, reducing the Mustangs to only 14 men.  Highland, using their one man advantage, exploited this advantage by getting into the try zone, and closing the half leading 21-19.

While the first half was a back and forth affair between the two teams, the second half was very much dominated by the Mustangs.  After several minutes where the Rams were dogged by penalties, Herriman finally found their way into the try zone, putting them up 26-21.  The Rams in an effort to answer this score, drove their way down deep into Herriman territory, before turning it over and having the Mustangs drop kick it deep out of their own try zone.  Herriman then at midfield managed to recover the ball following a scrum, and barreled their way into the try zone for another score, putting them up 33-21.

At this point in the match fatigue and frustration began to affect the Rams, as penalties and turnovers began to manifest themselves at a higher rate. Herriman then managed to score back to back tries, pushing their lead to 47-21 over the Rams.  Highland finally managed to answer with only four minutes left in the game, cutting the lead to 45-28, but by then it was too little too late.  Herriman put the icing on the cake scoring a penalty kick in stoppage time before subsequently drop kicking the ball out of bounds to have the game finish 52-28.  It was a tough end of the season for the Rams who had not lost a game all season, and who were looking to bring back some of the former glory of the Highland Rugby program.

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Herriman Smothers Highland In Rugby Championship