Old Gaelic Rugby Football Club came back and held on for a tight 26-23 victory over Philly Whitemarsh on Saturday. Its final home match of the fall was kicked off by a pregame helicopter show, setting the stage for an exciting day of rugby.
Old Gaelic came out strong, driving the ball right down the pitch agains the Whitemarsh defense. But a missed opportunity inside the 10 gave the ball pack to the visitors and the PWM 8-man finished a long score. Gaelic responded six minutes later with an impressive run from #13 Jase Martin and the Brady Reisman boot knotted it up at 7 apiece.
Just when it seemed like Gaelic might take some momentum it got sloppy with both defense and repeated penalties. PWM capitalized with two penalty kicks sandwiching a converted try to take a commanding 20-7 lead. With Captain Hart knocked out of the match due to injury, things did not look good for the Black and Gold.
But right after the second penalty kick, Martin sparked the offense again. This time he found winger JC and OG was right back in it. Just four minutes later a well-orchestrated red zone offense culminated in a “QB” try from flanker Alex Diegel and the clutch Reisman boot made it 21-20 Gaelic. The defense closed out the half and the home team went to the break with the lead and the momentum.
However, it only took two minutes for Gaelic’s toughest opponent to rear its ugly head once again—itself. Yet another penalty gave the PWM 9 a shot at goal, and he struck his third to take the lead back. Gaelic wasted no time, marching the ball right down the field and got a near-try from hooker Nick DeTorre. Instead “held up” was the call and Dan Roth—who came in for the injured Hart at 9— got the ball back from #8 Curtis Brillhart and scored the decisive try. Reisman’s boot was off this time, meaning Gaelic had to defend the three-point lead for the final 32 minutes of the match. And it did just that.
Ferocious defense, impact reserves making big plays, and a possession-based offense won the day for Gaelic. Though of course it had to make things difficult with penalties but three long attempts from Philly 9 failed to split the uprights. The third and final attempt resulted in a 22M which Reisman executed with a little dink, recovered by fullback Matt Leggett, who hit Diegel, who then fed flanker John Kroesen and Gaelic flipped the field to just about seal the match. But of course the Black and Gold had to scare the home crowd one more time. A penalty at 79′ and counting gave Whitemarsh a scrum at 50. The pack chose the final scrum of the match to steal one with a brilliant hook from Nick DeTorre; 8-man Lee Townsend smartly kicked the ball out of bounds and victory went to the Gaelic!
What a great team win. Every player who stepped on the pitch made a huge impact. Forwards were strong in the set pieces and set a physical tone. Backs made timely breaks and largely shut down arguably the best (and noisiest) backlines we’ll face. If you didn’t get time, your dedication and work at practice still make all the difference. The “club-first” mentality was on display in all ways, exemplified by Old Boy and CV Coach Dan Morris making an emergency jersey drop off for our opponents (even though the jerks didn’t end up needing them ha).
Don’t rest on our laurels. We took a huge step toward a 5-1 fall but still have work to do. We’ve got a scrappy Phoenixville team looking to make noise at the D2 level. We’ve got some guys unavailable; it will be a tough match and we must prepare accordingly. See you at the field Tuesday and Thursday.
Great win, gents.