Navy Heads List of Surprises in CRC
Navy Heads List of Surprises in CRC
Some surprises and some expected outcomes in the first day of competition at the USA Sevens CRC in Chester, Pa.
The tournament itself is thankfully back to two days thanks to some fields being built just outside of PPL Park, allowing more games to be played in the morning on Day One, and thus eliminating the need for the much-maligned Friday night games.
Now with all to play for on Saturday the teams unleashed some interesting results.
Cal won out 3-0, beating Notre Dame and Boston College easily with Russell Webb and Andrew Battaglia making some excellent plays out wide, but perhaps being guilty of forcing it a bit against Virginia Tech. Va Tech lost to the Bears 12-7 in a game they could certainly have won. But for Virginia Tech, the game they would want back would have to be Boston College. One more conversion would have seen them finish 2-1, instead of 1-1-1, and would have put the Hokies into the top eight. Notre Dame finished 1-2, and would have to be disappointed in that, but they lacked the size and power that Virginia Tech and Cal unleashed.
Another surprise, as Kutztown, the team Goff Rugby Report thought would be unstoppable, was stopped, emphatically, by Navy 24-14. The Midshipmen didn’t look too snappy in getting by Temple 12-7. But after that they were very strong, winning the contact area and simply faster in getting to their feet and making legal poaches. Their counter-rucking was also strong, and with Jack McAuliffe challenging defenders and finding his support, such as Dakota Raymond. Navy’s ball movement was superb, and they followed up their upset of Kutztown with a demolition of Air Force 27-5.
Shocked by their loss, Kutztown had a big game left on their docket. They had defeated Air Force and ended their day against Temple with a points difference of 0. They knew they needed more than that to get one of the three quarterfinal spots available for second-place teams. Paced by Robert Stortz and an urgency to get points, they routed Temple 47-7 to secure a wild card place.
Indiana was another team to unseat a perennial power, this time beating Life 24-19 as the IU squad showcased a nice, aggressive style with big, power runners, many of which had cut their rugby teeth in Indiana’s HS programs. IU beat Life, Alabama, and a somewhat disappointing Clemson to go 3-0.
Meanwhile, Life found themselves in the same position as Kutztown - entering the final game of the day they needed a big win over a tough Alabama team to ensure a quarterfinal spot. With Connor Mooneyham scoring two nice tries, and getting a yellow card, as well, and with Kevin Lynch and Jake McFadden making big plays, Life did what they needed to do, winning 36-0 and biking a wild card spot.
Arkansas State weren’t flashy on offense but were excellent on defense as they pushed aside Michigan, UCLA, and Texas. The big game was Michigan and UCLA, with the Wolverines edging UCLA 17-12, and then Michigan beat Texas to go 2-1, leaving 2014 semifinalists UCLA in the consolation rounds. Michigan’s points differential was 12 points. Would that be enough? …
Going into the final game of the day, Arizona was 1-1 and Dartmouth 2-0, with Arizona having been upended by St. Joseph’s 12-5, while Dartmouth beat the Hawks 31-7. So it seemed that maybe Dartmouth, despite being without their best player, Madison Hughes (with the USA 7s team), would roll. But Arizona dominated possession and the point of contact against Dartmouth, and Dante Weeks scored two brilliant tries to lead the Wildcats over Big Green 24-0. That was enough to win the pool for Arizona, and it pushed Dartmouth into the consolation rounds, as they ended the day with a +5 points differential. Had Dartmouth scored a couple of tries, they would have passed Michigan. And, as we said in Pool A, if Virginia Tech had kicked one more conversion, they would have bypassed Michigan, as well.
St. Joe’s and Penn State expected to be better, but they played a classic against each other, with Penn State winning right at the end 24-21.
So the pools look like this:
|1||U. of California||3||0||0||84||17||67||9|
That means the Cup Quarterfinal matchups look like this:
|10:00||U. of California||v||Michigan|
In the Plate Semis, Dartmouth plays Air Force and Virginia Tech plays UCLA in a clash of four very good teams.
Penn State takes on BC and St. Joe’s plays Notre Dame in the Bowl Semis, while in the Shield Semis, Alabama plays Texas and Clemson plays Temple.
The team that is playing the best right now may well be Navy, but Indiana remains a team nicely-placed to shake up this tournament.