South Wins RAN U19s

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Arkansas State University rising sophomore Calvin Gentry scored one try and Okapi Wanderers No. 8 Jack Freixa scored one as the USA Rugby South won the Rugby Americas North U19 Championships 19-6 over Mexico.

The USA South team, puled from high school and college teams from throughout the South, had played excellent defense throughout the tournament, and did so again in the final. After concerted pressure early in the first half, the South backs moved the ball to Gentry at outside center, and the Memphis product broke a couple of tackles and raced in for the opening try and a 5-0 lead.

"I was just trying to remain calm and not do too much, but when I got the ball I knew there was nobody who was going to stop me," said Gentry after the game.

Mexico worked the phases nicely and put the South under some pressure. The Panthers were caught offside twice, and twice Mexico put the penalty kick through the posts to take a 6-5 lead. 

Just before halftime, the South got the lead back. After a big run from No. 8 Freixa, the forwards consolidated and forced a penalty. Scrumhalf Diego Haro tapped quickly. He was immediately wrapped up but had Freixa on his hip, and the No. 8 took the pass and worked his way over. Shea O'Hanlon kicked the conversion and the South took a 12-6 lead into the break.

"It was imperative we start strong," said O'Hanlon, who is the flyhalf and captain and who added that there was concern that a storm might come through and bog down the game. "Mexico did really well in the line speed, but they missed on a few tackles. So ... keep it simple, just crash the ball, and we kept it crash ball and the forwards won it for us."

In the second half, both teams were pinged with yellow cards, and discipline problems really hurt Mexico. The South kept up the attack but weren't precise, and weren't able to finish all of their opportunities. But a nice lineout steal led to a run from flanker Cameron Tompkins and then, from a ruck, Gentry just picked up, found a seam, and went in under the posts. 

That was it, as the South held on 19-6.

"A lot of guys gutted it out; it wasn't pretty but a lot of guys played through a lot of fatigue and a lot of pain," said program director Mark Williams. "We had enough guys who had the fortitude to stick in there when things turned against us."

Defense won it for the South, defense and unity. The Panthers did not allow a try all through the competition, and outscored teams 120-6. The South 2 team finished 5th, outscoring teams 113-24 with their only loss being 17-15 to Mexico.








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