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Wild Day In D1 Elite

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Wild Day In D1 Elite

Bringing the Thunder. Lindenwood. Photo Todd Lunow.

It was a day of two very different games in women’s D1 Elite, but in the end we know who the top two are going into the playoffs.

Lindenwood slammed BYU 77-5 in a game that saw the Lions rest one or two of their more experienced players and still log almost a point a minute. 

Lindenwood scored in the first 62 seconds, setting the platform with a maul that almost galloped to the line and then spinning it wide to fullback Salote Iongi.

Four minutes later they once again went wide from close in and this time center Punipao Skipps crashed over. Their third try was a pick-and-go from prop Isabel Manu.

Lindenwood’s exceptionally quick ball from the rucks plus some snappy ballhandling kept BYU chasing their own tails.

But they also had power—too much power in the forwards and that’s how they scored the next two, with flanker Alia Ah Far and lock Moira Dillow busting through tacklers. And then it was the backs again. Skipps cut through for a break and then offloaded beautifully to her center partner Taina Tukuafu, who galloped 60 meters for the try. Caitlyn Edwards, who was solid on her goalkicking, also found paydirt, once just finishing the movement off, and once on a long run. That was eight tries and four Edwards conversions for a 48-0 halftime lead.

BYU finally got some points on the board in the second half, finishing off a nice team movement in the corner.  

But Lindenwood replied immediately, going through the phases to put Sativa Tarau-Peehikuru over. Sub forward Natalie Gray took over the goalkicking and slotted a very nice conversion before adding a penalty goal a few minutes later.

Lindenwood then topped 60 thanks to an excellent counter from Iongi that set up front-rower Jayla Hampton. A longer period of pressure led to Skipps scoring her second, and then with time up Edwards scored her third, making it 23 points for her.

Lindenwood was just too strong in the pack and they got consistent good ball and worked their moves nicely. This despite some regular starters taking the day off.

Head Coach Billy Nicholas was very pleased with what he saw from Skipps, who is a freshman out of the South Bay Spartans program, and Dillow at lock was outstanding in the lineout and in the loose.

And with the playoffs ahead he mixed up the lineup.

“We brought a strong side but also wanted to see how some people would take advantage of opportunities by getting some more minutes today,” he said.

Undefeated at 4-0, Lindenwood is the #1 seed in the D1 Elite playoffs April 17 and will host a semi.

On A Knife Edge In Georgia

It was a completely different story in Marietta, Ha., where Life University and Central Washington just couldn’t score for the life of them.

Central did get over early with a forward drive that put Kayla Guyten in for the try. Life replied when Kate Busby was tackled, released the ball and got up as she regathered, then was tackled again but not held, got up again, and raced 60 meters. She was caught just short of the line but offloaded to wing Malery Billingy for the try. It was 5-5 and it stayed that was for about 55 minutes. Both teams had ample opportunities to score, and it was actually a very entertaining game, but it was also mistake-riddled.

Neither team performed especially well in the red zone, at least on offense. In the second half Central camped out in the Life 22 but could get over. Life’s tackling was tenacious and unflinching against a very big, powerful CWU pack. The Wildcats missed those final passes to finish off the Running Eagles, but that was partly due to Life’s defensive effort. Finally, after a long period of attack the Wildcats ran some slightly wider one-up runs with their forwards, and that did the trick as Hayley Abeyta could not be stopped when she was hitting the ball at pace. 

Up 10-5, Central then had to weather Life’s best attacking period of the second half. Several times Life was within a meter or so of scoring, but key tackles and a very clutch tighthead on a scrum-five sealed the win for Central Washington.

“We are mostly pleased with the performance,” said CWU Head Coach Trevor Richards. “It’s the first time we’ve beaten Life and we managed to gut out a tough win in a fairly hostile environment  With that said, it was ugly at times and we were forcing unnecessary passes and not taking care of the ball, which created more work for our forwards, who were already getting through a mountain of work.  We also left quite a few points on the table and are still aren’t seeing and accessing space as quickly as we should, which in turn is creating more work for us as we try and battle through contact constantly.  We’ve got some battered and bruised bodies to heal up this week while we prepare for semifinals in mid-April but we’re proud of the heart our squad showed today.”

The Standings

So by our reckoning the semifinal matchups are the same as this weekend's games, except that Lindenwood and CWU will be hosting. Those semifinals are slated for April 17, with the final on April 24.

Women D1 Elite W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
Lindenwood 4 0 0 229 34 195 4 0 20
CWU 3 1 0 91 88 3 2 0 14
Life 0 3 0 22 100 -78 0 1 1
BYU 0 3 0 26 146 -120 0 0 0
Penn State 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0