Dakota Heath scores his second try on the final play of the game to help the Tigers to their best-ever Top Flight finish

PORTLAND — Leading 8-5 late in the second half thanks to Ian Halstead’s perfectly struck penalty kick, all Newberg needed was a stop in order to fend off Lincoln and win the Rugby Oregon Boys Varsity Premiership Plate Playoff Saturday at Delta Park.

Unfortunately, that was when the Tigers lost focus, allowing a Cardinal player to break their line and scurry 25 yards for a go-ahead try. by: SETH GORDON - Best ever - Junior Ian Halstead shakes a tackler during Newberg's 13-10 win over Lincoln in the Rugby Oregon Plate (fifth-place) final. Halstead's penalty kick in the second half proved to be the differnce in a tightly contested match.

That left Newberg with only a handful of minutes to march down the field for an answering try, which is exactly what coach Rick Rogers’ team did.

Dakota Heath juked his way through a pocket of defenders to scamper the final 10 yards for the game-winning try on what turned out to be the last live play in regulation.

“I just saw a hole and went for it,” Heath said. “I thought I heard somebody yell, ‘Score!’ but that might have just been in my head.”

Heath also opened the scoring with a try in the first half, but Lincoln answered with a try of its own to knot score a 5-5, which is where it stayed when halftime rolled around.

The futility continued well into the second half of what Rogers judged to be a pretty sloppy game.

“We had some chances and they had some chances, but neither capitalized on them very well,” Rogers said. “To their credit, they played for a period with two men down and we couldn’t do anything. You rarely, if ever, see that. But our guys did just enough to get it done.”

But just after the Cardinals returned to pull strength, Newberg drew a penalty and, having been stymied several times near the try line on that possession alone, elected to have Halstead take the penalty kick.

It wasn’t long before Lincoln got its answer, then the Cardinal nearly wrapped it up by stealing the ball about 10 yards out from Newberg’s own try line and leaping into the end zone. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, a Tiger leaped into the end zone in hot pursuit and jarred the ball loose before it could be touched down.

After that, Newberg started its winning drive from about 10 yards out and the rest is history, which is also what the Tigers made as a program by finishing fifth — its highest finish in the top flight of high school rugby in the state.

“It just feels really good,” Heath said. “We get to walk out with our chins up just a little bit, feeling good.”

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