Chicago Wins First Game in Franchise History
CHICAGO, I.L.- The Chicago Hounds recorded their first win in franchise history on Saturday, beating the Dallas Jackals 24-22 on a frigid night at SeatGeek Stadium. With the win, the Hounds moved to 1-3 and now sit in fifth place on the Western Conference Table with six points.
Things started poorly for the Hounds, playing their third game in a row at home. The Jackals got on the board less than a minute into the game. The Jackals kicked off to start the game and got possession back during the first ruck. They worked through the phases before attacking the weak side. Quick hands from Jero Gomez Vara to Tomy Malanos and then fullback Aco Moroni resulted in a Moroni try in the corner. Dallas flyhalf Adriaan Carelse missed the tough conversion and it was suddenly 5-0.
The Hounds evened things up at five apiece in the 15th minute via a Mark O’Keeffe try- his first of the 2023 season. Mike Matarazzo received the ball on a pass from the base of the ruck before sending it out to the 2022 first-team all-pro selection. O’Keeffe put a shoulder into one would-be tackler before breaking another tackle just inches away from the try zone. He crossed over and dotted the ball down, making it 5-5 nearly a quarter of the way into the game. The conversion was missed by flyhalf Luke Carty.
Just minutes later, O’Keeffe made another line break to set up the Hounds’ second try of the night. After receiving a pass from fullback Chris Mattina, O’Keeffe broke through another tackle and darted towards paydirt. He was brought down and quick ball resulted in a Luke Carty cross-field kick to left wing Julian Dominguez. Dominguez made one man miss before dragging two defenders across with him into the try zone. Carty couldn’t convert the try and it was 10-5 after 20 minutes.
The Jackals bounced back at the half-hour mark through a rolling maul try. Carelse missed the conversion for the Jackals and it was knotted at 10-10 with halftime looming. That was the score as the two winless teams went into the sheds.
Carty converted a penalty goal six minutes into the second stanza and gave the Hounds their lead back, 13-10. The Hounds earned another penalty just six minutes later and Carty was successful on another penalty attempt, making it 16-10 after 51 minutes of play.
The Hounds extended the lead six minutes later with another Julian Dominguez try. He did well to catch a pass from Luke Beauchamp, snagging the ball out of the air with one hand, and dragged a Jackals’ defender over the line. The score made the game 21-10; Carty’s uncharacteristic day off of the kicking tee continued as his third conversion attempt of the day didn’t go through.
Then the Jackals came storming back. Flanker Jeronimo Gomez Vara scored an absurd try that made a ton of Hounds’ defenders miss. After 63 minutes, and a converted try, it was 21-17 and the Hounds’ faithful were once again holding their breath as the game entered the final ten minutes. The Jackals retook the lead moments later via a Connor Robinson try and it was 22-21 in favor of the away side.
Mattina took over the game in the final moments. He made a few line breaks that got the Hounds into Jackal territory and in the 78th minute the Hounds earned a penalty. Mattina kicked over the go-ahead penalty and it was 24-22 with just moments left to play.
The Jackals found themselves back in Hounds’ territory as the game was winding down. It was the 80th minute and they went phase after phase, seemingly looking to draw a Chicago penalty and kick over the game-winning points. However, Hounds’ reserve prop Paddy Ryan drew a penalty that resulted in the first ever win for the franchise.
Final Score: Chicago Hounds 24 – Dallas Jackals 22
1:00- Dallas try, Marcos Moroni; conversion no good; 0-5
15:00- Chicago try, Mark O’Keeffe try; conversion no good; 5-5
20:00- Chicago try, Julian Dominguez; conversion no good; 10-5
30:00- Dallas try, Tomas Baravalle; conversion no good; 10-10
46:00- Chicago penalty goal, Luke Carty; 13-10
52:00- Chicago penalty goal, Luke Carty; 16-10
57:00- Chicago try, Julian Dominguez; conversion no good; 21-10
64:00- Dallas try, Jeronimo Gomez Vara; conversion good; 21-17
69:00- Dallas try, Connor Robinson; conversion no good; 21-22
77:00- Chicago penalty goal, Chris Mattina; 24-22
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