It started fast but in the end, the Belmont High School Club Rugby team used a lot of grit and grind to wear down a tough Boston College High squad to win its Massachusetts Youth Rugby Organization semifinal match, 24-17, before an enthusiastic crowd at Harris field on Tuesday, May 20.
“We came out flat and I think some of the guys may have been looking ahead since we beat them earlier this year,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Greg Bruce.
Belmont will defend its Division 1 Massachusetts State title against arch-rivals Bishop Hendricken High School of Warwick, RI on Saturday, May 24 at Fort Devens after the Hawks defeated Needham High in the other semifinal on Monday.
Last year, Belmont defeated the Hawks, 17-5, to win the 2013 championship.
Belmont will be looking to revenge their sole 2014 regular season loss when they were defeated by Bishop Hendricken, 33-14, in April. They Hawks has been the only team to defeat Belmont in the past two regular seasons.
Junior flyhalf Paul Campbell tallied two tries and two conversions to lead Belmont to a 24-12 half time lead over the Eagles whom Belmont defeated easily three weeks earlier, 31-5.
But it was the determination of Belmont’s men up front, the first and second row and the loose forwards – Bruce pointed to senior Pat O’Connor as a standout Tuesday – that battled for the entire 35 minutes in the second half, allowing a single BC try despite playing a great deal of the time in their own end.
“BC High made some serious adjustments and they came out like they were playing for something,” said Bruce.
Bruce praised senior first-year player Dominique Owens-Moore – who delivered a monstrous tackle on a BC High player who had just received a clearing kick – “was all over the field” as well as other “first-timers” such as fellow senior Andrew Mosca “who are consistent and work hard and they do everything you ask of them.”
As for Saturday’s title matchup, Bruce said he and the coaching staff will debrief the team Wednesday “on what we did not do well and what we were successful with” along with a couple of training sessions.
“I have confidence the guys will show up on Saturday and play a much better Belmont-style of rugby,” said Bruce.