Saturday, May 6, 2017

Notre Dame College Wins DI-AA Championship

The Notre Dame College Falcons are the DI-AA champions after beating defending champion UC-Davis 40-20 in a tense, physical match. The Falcons had to put in a come from behind performance as UC-Davis got out to an early lead but Notre Dame College responded by turning up the physical play and limited what UC-Davis was able to do on offense. Their backs also were able to turn the tide in the second half with some big plays.

As mentioned, UC-Davis got out to a stronger start. A couple of penalties from the fly-half Farnsworth put the Aggies up 6-0 with a quarter of the match played. That quarter of the match truly belonged to UC-Davis. They especially were able to use their kicking game to pin Notre Dame College back and when NDC did have the ball they couldn't hold on to it with a number of penalties. Those penalties led to multiple UC-Davis opportunities and eventually cost the Falcons Matthew Smith to the bin shortly after the Aggies second penalty.

Take the jump to read more.

Rather than rattling them the penalty seemed to calm Notre Dame College down. From that point on they were able to make a bigger mark on the game and work their way on to the scoreboard. Their big breakthrough came with five minutes to go before the end of the half. Using their upped physicality they were able to finally keep possession for stretches leading to Zach Forro powering over for the try. At halftime Notre Dame College led 7-6.

In the second half Notre Dame College picked up their second try just minutes in. This time it would come from flanker Cian Grendon. Momentum was with the Falcons as they had all of the possession and now led 14-6. Fly-half Cory Graham made a big run but was tackled right at the line. Grendon was there to take the great offload for the try.

UC-Davis didn't help themselves with a warning from the referee on penalties and then a missed shot at goal. They did have some chances and despite some good play at the breakdown weren't able to find a connection to their backs. They were never truly able to get out and run the way the Falcons were able to.

The true separation in the match came with about 20 minutes to play. That's when Notre Dame College got a try from wing Charles Winn to increase the lead to 19-13. UC-Davis did get back in it somewhat when prop Inoke Raikadroka was able to crash over. That made it 19-13 but with the clock winding down.

The dagger came shortly after the try. Pinned in their own end the Aggies tried to fling the ball across the pitch to relieve pressure but it was intercepted by RoNeil Reynolds and taken in for the try. With the conversion and less than ten minutes to play Notre Dame College held a 26-13 lead. They would then get another quick try to seal the match despite another late try from UC-Davis.

Full credit to Notre Dame College. Down early they regroup and upped the physicality needed to win. After falling short the last few trips to the post-season this one will have to feel special.

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