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Thomas More, Queens, Brown, and Bonnies to NCR D1 Semis

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Thomas More, Queens, Brown, and Bonnies to NCR D1 Semis

Thomas More vs Wheeling. Stephen Oldfield photo.

Thomas More put Fairfield to the sword 70-21 to move on to the NCR D1 semifinals Saturday, jumping to the top four a year after winning the D2 playoffs.

Also into the NCR D1 semifinals are Queens University Charlotte, Brown, and defending champions St. Bonaventure.

Saints Go Marching In

Thomas More scored 10 tries and all 10 were converted in a game where both teams were perfect in going for extras.

Fairfield learned very quickly that mistakes are punished with tries and they made too many mistakes. The Stags battled hard, were good in the set pieces, and led by captains Nick Lapponese and Conor Rinklin were game to the end. Senior hooker Stephen Ryan was big on the carries and poaching the ball and senior flanker John Thompson tackled hard and carried harder.

Danny Enright, Chris Giunta, and Jon Minogue scored tries, with Giunta converting all three.

“Credit to Thomas More for capitalizing on our mistakes," said Fairfield Director of Rugby Austin Ryan. "While this defeats stings, I firmly believe Fairfield’s best days are ahead of it. I could not be prouder of the seniors and leadership group to take this program from winless prior to 2019, to the national quarterfinals.”

For the Saints flanker Sam Ray scored off a pick-and-go and that was followed by Manuel Zubiri, Lorenzo Lelli, and Francisco "Poncho" Cuscuna. While Rafael O'Gorman converted three of those Coscuna converted his own.

In the second half TMU scored two minutes in, with Luca Mattassini going in off a switch pass from flyhalf Poncho Cuscuna. They added five more tries after that.

No. 8 Lorenzo Lelli added three more in the second half and was a huge ground gainer for the Saints, while O'Gorman added a try to his 18 points off conversions for 23 points.

Lock Farid Salim was another big runner for TMU.

It was an impressive showing from the Saints and certainly put the more established teams on notice.

Royals Seek Crown

Queens made the NCR semifinals in 2021 and is looking for one more step. The Royals got past AIC 33-14,taking early command with two tries to lead 14-0 and holding onto that lead throughout. Martin Pierce, Prince Louis-Bush, and Marshall Frank helped lead the charge. Frank's try came with the score 19-14 and made sure Queens had a cushion. Chester Stanyon sealed it.

It was a tough game for Queens, one of the closest games they encountered this fall. Now they have to face Thomas More December 3 in Reading, Pa.

Back Again for Bonnies

In the closest game of the weekend St. Bonaventure got by Indiana 29-24. 

Bonnies did have some players back from injury and that gave them a boost. Coming off a loss to Navy Head Coach Tui Osborne wanted to see some more precise play and he got it.

"We just had better individual performances after our last game," said Osborne. "We left some points on the board but we did minimize the number of errors."

Bonnies ran out to a 22-7 lead at halftime but Indiana came back with a penalty and a try. St. Bonaventure answered and that was key before Indiana scored another with time winding down.

Brown Downs Cardinals

Brown University beat Wheeling 27-7, making the semifinals a year after bowing out in the quarterfinals. In 2021 Brown was edged by Penn State 27-26.

"Our target this season was one game more than last year; we achieved that," said Brown Head Coach David Laflamme. "It's pretty amazing to be in the same company as three varsity program. I guess it shows that club sports can be competitive and succeed. We know Bonnies will be a challenge; we're prepared to do what we can to play our game."

Brown will take on St. Bonaventure December 3.