By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– The Salem Lost Boys Rugby team have been playing undermanned the last two weeks with 14 players instead of 15.
But, against the Clark County Warriors, they came out firing on home turf at Claggett Park in Keizer by jumping out 21-0 with scoring tries by Tucker Stepp, Alex Shields and Nick Thompson as they entered the second half of the match looking to close out a possible win.
“Staying aggressive early. Our backs took it to their backs and our forwards with the support early in the beginning,” said Thompson on the start. “We just got tired throughout, that’s how they came back.”
The Warriors said after the match that the Lost Boys always give them a challenge every time they play and Saturday morning was no different and vica versa as Clark County began to chip away at the lead and eventually took the lead off a scoring try with four minutes left in the match, going up 28-21 after the kick with Salem kicking back to Clark County with the hopes that they’ll tie up the ball game before the final whistle.
The Lost Boys sent a pooch kick down the field that bounced off a Warrior player, but Clark County picked up the loose ball only to be met by a see of Blue of Salem as the Lost Boys tackled and fought for a loose ball through a scrum before the Warriors could pass it from the ground to the outside of the pile.
Salem got the ball though out of the pile and began passing it around, looking for a open gap to run up to try to tie the game. The ball worked from the team’s side of the field to the crowd side of the field only to be met by Warrior defenders that were standing in front of them, but they advanced the ball a few yards in the process.
“It was really hard to go through with playing down a man for starters, and then losing another to injury early on. It was just hard fought,” said Stepp on how Clark County came back into the game. “We got cocky because we were up three-nil (21-0) and they just capitalize on us, we were making mistakes and they caught up on their mistakes.”
Those few yards were about all that Clark County was going to give to the Lost Boys as the Warriors got the tackle and won the ball through the scramble as time expired on the match.
Gathered around as one, both team’s picked a ‘Man of the Game’ from both teams, Stepp was named that for Salem as the Lost Boys look to close out the season strong starting Saturday, April 28 with NC/Three Rivers Rugby Club at 11am and Saturday’s match serves as a good example of how they can improve.
“Get to practice, work on our stuff, get better conditioned,” said Stepp as they prep for that next game.
“It all starts at practice you know,” adds Thompson. “We get low numbers, people missing out. It all starts at practice, set the tone there and work hard.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald