RUGBY: Black and Blue batter Frenchtown in state semis

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MISSOULA — The Black and Blue boys rugby team has hit its stride at the perfect time. It hopes one solid performance is still left in the tank.

The Black and Blue crushed the Frenchtown Iron Horse 53-15 on Friday afternoon in the state semifinals, setting up a rematch with the Bitterroot Warriors today at 1:30 p.m. on the Warriors’ home pitch in Corvallis. The Black and Blue are gunning for their third consecutive state championship.

“They did exactly what they needed to do to get themselves back into the state championship game,” Black and Blue coach Bob Kiesel said. “It was a real clean performance for the Black and Blue. They played all three facets of the game just beautifully.”

It was all Black and Blue from the opening whistle.

Hunter Wellcome and Tanner Russell each pushed in tries within the first five minutes, and Tucker Nadeau added another at the 14-minute mark to stake the Black and Blue to an early 17-0 lead. Russell, Wellcome and Nadeau all added another try in a six-minute span late in the first half to turn the match into a 34-0 rout by intermission.

The Black and Blue continued to control possession in the second half and stretched its lead to 53-5 thanks to tries from Sam Mann, Nadeau and Wellcome. Frenchtown tacked on two late scores in garbage time.

“(Frenchtown) really never had the ball very much, and when they did they didn’t do much with it,” Kiesel said.

Wellcome and Nadeau led the Black and Blue with three tries apiece. Russell added two and was named man of the match.

“He just kept playing stronger and stronger,” Kiesel said of Russell. “The kid is just one hell of a rugby player.”

The Black and Blue girls and junior high teams are also looking to defend state titles today in Corvallis.

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