Above: Gaga Maisuradze contemplates life while in the sin bin.
D3 Men 22, Hudson Valley 27
The day opened with the D3 Men facing off against Hudson Valley. The boys looked to bounce back after a tough loss last weekend, and they did quickly with No. 13 Christian “Sleeves” Viscarra scoring in the fourth minute after some good phase play from the Lions.
The lead was short-lived, as Hudson Valley responded with three unanswered tries through their back line — which looked more like a forward pack — in the eighth, 11th, and 14th minute to take a 15-5 lead.
The Lions struck back in the 26th minute thanks to 7s captain Byron Henry, who baited and then sliced through the entire Hudson Valley back line to touch one down underneath the posts. Former Hudson Valley man and current Lion Disco Steve hit the conversion to make the score 15-12.
The second half opened with a quick Hudson Valley try from their No. 12, who gave the Lions trouble all day. Their conversion was good, so 22-12 to HV.
In the 50th minute, it was again Byron who made the Hudson Valley defense look silly with a great run from 15 meters out to score a try in the corner. Score: 22-17, Hudson Valley. Just as the Lions looked to be building some momentum to stage a comeback win, Hudson Valley pounded one in after some sloppy play gave them a scrum 10 meters out from the Lions’ try zone. The conversion was no good for a score of 27-17m with Hudson Valley still leading.
In the 60th minute, the Lions had some nice backs combination work on the far sideline before getting the ball to wing Julian Watts, who reached out to put it down and pull the Lions within 5 points. Despite a last-ditch effort to tie the game in the 78th minute, the Lions ultimately fell to Hudson Valley, 27-22.
Captained by Nigel “Milk Snatcher” Riley, the Lions fought hard and showed excellent improvement. Man of the Match went to Disco Steve, who played well in the centers all day, making strong tackles and runs against his former club. Good play from scrumhalf Rene-Paul Laferie, as well as Eric Han, Rico Garcia and Olivier Hepner in the pack.
Next week: Home v. Danbury, 4 p.m.
D2 Men 38, White Plains 38
After the D3 game, the D2 side took the field against former D1 side White Plains.
The men from White Plains came out firing early with a try in the fourth minute. WP’s No. 10 was excellent on conversions and penalties all day, hitting them from all over the field. White Plains went on top early, 7-0. It didn’t take long to see that the White Plains strategy centered around getting the ball to the backs, as they spread the Lions out in the eighth minute and scored another. The conversion was again good, putting WP on top, 14-0.
In the 13th minute, the Lions conceded a penalty 22 meters out, giving the WP No. 10 another opportunity to show off his kicking prowess, easily hitting the penalty and putting the Lions down 17-0. After 10 minutes of intense and hard-hitting play, the Lions committed another kickable penalty at midfield, again allowing White Plains’ No. 10 to convert, this time from 50 meters out. Score: 20-0 WP in the 22nd minute.
While it was starting to look like White Plains would run away with this one, the Lions were not to be denied. Hubert Chan gave the Lions their first points of the day, hitting a penalty from 35 meters out in the 24th minute to put the Lions on the board, 20-3.
As VLRFC looked to turn the tide and get back into this one, they were hit with a yellow card in the 30th minute, sending Gaga Maisuradze to the sin bin to think about his dangerous tackle. Enter WP No. 10 and yet another penalty kick. Lions down 23-3.
A man down with five minutes to go in the half, some teams would have tried to simply get to halftime and stop the bleeding. Not the Lions and not Pokey Mullarkey.
In the 35th minute and down a man, the Lions moved the ball well in the backs and got it out to Delaware’s own, Pokey, who made a great run to put one down in the corner and net the Lions their first try of the day. Hubert hit the conversion to make it 23-10. The Lions headed into the half trailing but knew what needed to be done to stage a comeback in the second half.
While the Lions came out ready to go after the break, so, too, did White Plains, rumbling one over after a 5-meter scrum in the 45th minute. The conversion is no good, score 28-10.
In the 51st minute the Lions started to show signs of life, with Chilean heartbreaker Felipe charging through (not around, but through) WP defenders to get a hard-earned try. Hubert converts, making it 28-17 with the Lions gaining.
Fresh legs came on in the 51st minute as Patrick Christy made his much-anticipated return from injury, subbing for John “Tex” Lechner, along with Thiery Kamga for JJ Darling and 7s legend Alex Cook for new Lion and (another) ‘Cuse alum in John Wilson. The game saw great work from Tex and JJ in the pack, and from Wilson at 15.
Unfortunately, in the 52nd minute, Lions No. 12 Chris Wise sustained a severe ankle injury. The game was paused as the teams awaited an ambulance to transport him to the hospital. Best wishes to Chris, and here’s to a speedy recovery.
White Plains used the game break to recharge and realign: They came out firing, scoring a quick try and converting in the 55th minute to make it 35-17. Two minutes later, the Lions were able to capitalize on a number of WP penalties with scrumhalf Rich “Dante” Giglio taking a quick tap 5 meters out and putting one down for the Lions. Hubert hit the conversion to help the Lions close the gap, making it 35-24.
The game started to feel tighter and tighter as the Lions picked up the physicality on defense and strung together nice phases on offense. Making up for his earlier card, Gaga showed off his trademark power, notching a try in the 63rd minute. Hubert hit the conversion, and the score became a very tight 35-31.
Momentum was moving the Lions’ way as stud WP kicker No. 10 was sent off with a yellow in the 66th minute for a high tackle on Lions try scorer Pokey. The Lions capitalized six minutes later, in the 72nd minute, with some excellent ball movement through the hands and out to Cook, who made a beautiful run into the corner for the score. Hubert hit an equally pretty conversion and put the Lions on top for the first time all day, 38-35.
Following a Lions knock on the restart, WP had a scrum 22 meters out with four minutes to go. Cleanly won in the scrum, WP pushed deeper into the Lions zone before a Lions penalty 5 meters out. Rather than go for the win, WP took the penalty and evened the score at 38 apiece in the 76th minute.
With three minutes to go in the game, both sides battled for possession to try and take control and ultimately go for the win. With ball in hand at the 80th minute, the Lions committed a penalty in the breakdown, giving the ball to White Plains, who lined up for the game-winning kick 60 meters out. There was silence on Field 74 as everyone awaited the final play of the game. While the No. 10 for WP had been on all day, it was not to be, as his kick sailed wide, and the game ended in a 38-38 draw.
It was very gutsty performance from the Lions, who battled back all game to secure the tie against a well-drilled White Plains side. Lots to build on as we head into rivalry week against NYRC, but strong play in the forward pack from Captain Fuzz, Rob Stabile, Bullwinkle, and new guy Mike Tag.
The backs saw strong performances from Man of the Match Rich “Dante” Giglio, Rich Parsley, RaRa Perkins and Christian Viscarra, who came on as an emergency sub for Chris Wise.
Next week: Home v. NYRC, 12 p.m.