Sunday, August 27, 2017

Jesters, Fiji Into RugbyTown 7s Cup Final

The Ramblin Jesters and Fiji will contest the RugbyTown 7s after surviving their respective Cup semi-finals. In other divisions the Plate is down to Azul and Tiger Rugby, the Bowl will be the College All-Americans against Atavus and the Shield will be the Coast Guard against the Navy.

The first semi-final saw the Ramblin Jesters beat Rugby Utah 31-7. Although the match was more contested than the final score indicated the Jesters were deserved winners and have to be slight favorites to win the whole thing. They've played really clinical rugby all weekend and have punished any mistake. That was the case against Utah where a couple of early mistakes from Utah led to a couple of tries from Benji Marfo. Another bobbled ball led to a third try as well as John O'Donnell outran everyone to jump on a kicked ahead ball.

Utah started the half well with a try from Keslin Pupunu. They also prevented the Jesters from adding what could have been a winning try with a great defense play. However, the Jesters simply had more possession than Utah and made it count with a couple of tries to finish the match. Utah played well when they had the ball they just didn't have any possession.

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The other semi-final featured Fiji against the British Army. Given the number of Fijians on both sides it made for one of the most entertaining matches of the day. Neither side was able to find an advantage early despite some very nice passing. It was Fiji that were finally able to find a gap and go in for the score. They would add a second to lead 12-0 at the break.

In the second half the British Army got on the board first to narrow the gap. They also picked up an advantage as Fiji had a player issued a yellow card. However, even down a man Fiji looked more dangerous and nearly scored on a couple of occasions. They had to work for it but they soon earned a penalty try on a high tackle--which also saw a British Army player sent to the bin--and another try to seal the match. The British Army scored the last try of the match.

Cup Semi-finals

Jesters 31-7 Utah
Fiji 26-12 British Army

It took until about a minute left before the half for their to finally be a breakthrough in the first Plate semi-final between Azul and the Air Force. Of any of the matches early the heat and three days of play seemed to have the biggest impact on this match. Neither team had the cleanest of matches with a number of knock-ons. The breakthrough finally came when Jonathan Poole scored for Azul.  They picked up another one after the halftime hooter to lead 12-0. Poole opened the scoring in the second half and Azul generally dominated possession the rest of the way on the way to the win.

The match between TIger Rugby and the Army was very even for the first few minutes. The only difference early came when Sebastian Kalm was shown a yellow card for trying to kick the ball out of the hands of a Army player. That led to David Geib scoring the first try of the match. John Cullen then added to his weekend's tally with a big run. Cullen has had a fantastic weekend and has to be on the radar of the national team.

Tiger Rugby did end the half with a nice try from JP Eloff. That gave them a lot of momentum heading into the second half where they played a much cleaner. They were able to keep possession for long stretches and were justly rewarded with a try from  Naima Fualaau. They then saved up the best for last as they crashed over on a last second try for the win.

Plate Semi-finals

Azul 31-0 Air Force
Tiger Rugby 17-14 Army

There were a couple of interesting match-ups in the semi-finals of the Bowl. To reach the final the College All-Americans had to get past Denver. It took a late try from Reece Czarknecki late in the match to make the difference. Denver did have a chance late but went into touch. Overall, it has to have been a disappointing match for Denver. The bulk of the team is coming off winning the Club 7s Nationals and although they had a tough pool they could have done better.

In the other semi-final Atavus advanced past the SoCal Griffins. Atavus went up first via Tim Stanfill before the Griffins went ahead on a converted try. The difference came in the second half as Atavus pulled away with a couple of tries.

Bowl Semi-finals

All-Americans 17-10 Denver
Atavus 22-14 SoCal Griffins

In in the Shield semi-finals Navy got past the Glendale Merlins 24-17 and the Coast Guard beat the RAF Spitfires 24-14.

Shield Semi-finals

Navy 24-17 Merlins
Coast Guard 24-14 RAF

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