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Tigers hemmed in by Battle Ground


Girls rugby — With a young line-up depleted by injuries, Newberg is fighting an uphill battle

This has been a rebuilding year for Newberg girls rugby, but even as the team gains experience, it is losing depth.

That has plagued the Tigers during the latter part of the season, even forcing them to forfeit versus Grant for a lack of players.

Newberg fielded 17 players Saturday, enough to have two substitutes, but couldn’t withstand the efficient attack of Battle Ground, which rolled to a 35-0 mercy rule victory at Renne Field.by: SETH GORDON - Bull Rush - Natalie Duce tries to break through a pack of Battle Ground defenders         during Newberg's 35-0 mercy rule defeat Saturday at Renne Field.

“They have a really good backline, so all of their backs, on offense, would take the ball at pace, catch it in full stride, pass it at full stride,” head coach Leslie Johnson said. “With that, it’s really hard to tackle someone, it’s intimidating to tackle someone when they’re running at full pace. We just had a lot missed tackles so the second wave would have to spend energy chasing down someone.”

Lynzee Means was named woman of the match among the team’s forwards for her defensive effort, which included registering some brilliant tackles.

The absence of captain Kake Oylear, who is sitting out the rest of the season with a concussion, has been especially tough on the team as it attempts to play as a single unit while many of the team’s rookies are still learning the game.

“We miss having our general out there,” Johnson said. “It’s not even so much the actual physical presence that she brings, but it’s also just the voice, the leadership.”

Rosa Gaona, the team’s scrum half, has assumed captain duties in Oylear’s absence, which has forced her to take a more vocal approach to the game. She earned woman of the match honors for the team’s backs.

“She probably had the most hunger for the ball out of all of our players,” Johnson said. “She’s the link between the forwards and the backs and she did a really good job of that. She fought really hard in this game.”

The Tigers (2-5) will take on Cleveland Saturday at Delta Park in Portland to close out the regular season.