Over 18 months since we last took the field, rugby finally returned to Lincoln Park. It could be said that Chicago officially reopened with an LPRFC win.
With a squad that was made up of about 50% new players to the club and with some making their rugby debuts, Park shuck off the rust with an impressive victory.
After one of the driest Mays on record, and after waiting so long to take the field, it was perhaps fitting that the kickoff was delayed to let pass torrential rain and thunder. But, despite this, it took only 5 minutes for Park to open the scoring. A sneaky break from Garwood from the base of ruck gave Park great field position and Schwartz finished the move slicing through under the posts.
Minutes later Garwood used a penalty – won from his own long kick – to take a quick tap and scamper in for Park’s second score.
With Park pinned down inside their own twenty-two, Fox Valley forced themselves back into the game when they took advantage of Park penalties to pull the score back to within 9.
Park continued to apply pressure and their new offensive scheme was creating opportunities in the wide channels with Callovini and Weiss gaining ground when the chances arose. Cleghorn too showed his value as a ball carrier with a storming 30 yard run after collecting a Fox Valley kickoff.
Nolan and Anderson completed Park’s scoring in the first period each creating space for themselves with a little dummy pass and then showing a turn of pace to race through for the try. Anderson’s kicking was perfect in the first half converting all 4 conversions to give Park a 28-5 lead.
Park began to make changes in the second 30 minutes, giving coach Brady the chance to evaluate the new talent. New prop Melody came inches short of a debt try but Leyman was on hand to pick and drive for the try.
Finnegan combined superbly with Kishore and Anderson to score in the corner, the fullback being a constant threat all game joining the back-line with clever angled runs. Primdahl’s score being more a direct route as the substitute prop dragged several defenders over the line with him.
Park’s final score was set up with a long break from Frisch executing his customary inside step to find Rosenfeld who exhibited his generous nature to feed Long only feet from the try-line.
A flurry of late tries as Park experimented with positional changes giving some players their first taste of rugby brought the score closer but Park were never in danger of giving up their comfortable advantage. Moran demonstrated an eagerness for work-rate diving to rescue several loose balls and Nicholas found his jumper with a well-executed throw to the middle of the lineout.
Team: Kirby, Sowa, Melody, Leyman, Schaede, Cleghorn, Schwartz, Jahner, Garwood, Nolan, Weiss, Anderson, Griffin, Callovini, Finnegan
Finishers: Primdahl, Hodges, Moline, Andrus, Long, Jewell, Schilz, Moran, Nicholas, Vasquex, O’Malley, Frisch, Rosenfeld, Hortiales, Kishore, Walsh, Thomas
Tries: Schwartz, Garwood, Nolan, Anderson, Leyman, Finnegan, Primdahl, Long,
Con: Anderson 4, Walsh 2