You are here
In the penultimate weekend of the DI Red River, the Austin Huns essentially locked up its spot as the conference representative at Nationals with a one-point victory over the Austin Blacks. A trip to the national play-in game is on the line on Saturday as the Austin Blacks host the Dallas Reds for second place in the Red River. The winner will play the #2 seed from the Pacific North on May 6th to advance to Nationals.
In Austin’s crosstown brawl, the Huns edged the Blacks 31-30 on the Blacks’ home field. Determined to play better than the lackluster performance of the first game back in February, the Blacks came out of the gates firing with three tries in in the first 30 minutes of the match. Prop Chris Baumann, wing Antonio Winn, and fullback Adam Armstrong got the Blacks on the board and Armstrong added two conversions for the 17-0 lead.
The Huns finally awoke from their slumber in the 28th minute when lock Kyle Breytenbach found pay dirt to trail the Blacks 17-5 at the half. After refocusing during the break, the Huns scored twice in the first 11 minutes of the second half to give them its first lead of the match at 19-17. Forwards Peter Malcolm and Brian Welborn crashed over the try line for scores and Timothee Guillimin connected on both conversions.
The Blacks responded with an Armstrong penalty to regain the lead and extended it via a try by #10 Tane Jericevich to make it a six-point game at 25-19. The Huns’ center Joedee Reyes answered in the 64th minute, but Guillimin missed the points after to keep the Blacks in front at 25-24.
The seesaw swung back to the Blacks five minutes later as Baumann struck again to push the lead to six points with ten minutes left. The Blacks’ defense hoped to hold the Huns’ potent offense at bay for the final minutes but unfortunately came up one minute short. In the match’s final sequence, the Huns’ eightman Deon Minnaar scored the equalizer and Guillimin’s all-important conversion was good for the 31-30 last second victory.
“The Austin Blacks really didn’t want to lose against us at their home field, and we knew about it,” said Huns’ general manager Thierry Daupin. “They were also able to reinforce their team with some keys players. On our side, we had to readjust with a long season and some of our keys players were injured. Our boys were able to regroup and pull a great victory. We knew we were fitter and the second half would make the difference, but we didn’t expect to wait the last second of the game.”
In the Red River’s other inner-city clash, the Reds outpaced the Harlequins, 60-29. “The Quins are our crosstown rivals and we know we are always in for a hard-hitting match. Saturday was no exception,” said Reds’ president David Dodge. “Luckily, we had several players returning from injury. We were able to maintain possession and strong play from our forwards made good room for the backs out wide.”
Eightman Dale Russ led the way with go-forward ball to get the offense rolling, while hooker J.P. Rodriguez earned Man of the Match honors. Russ, Rodriguez, wing Cameron Spencer (2), prop Chris Schmidt, center Jake Campey (2), lock Chase Vincent, scrummy Inoke Bulai, and wing Zach Klump found the try line in the victory.
The Reds’ win coupled with the Austin Blacks’ loss sets a win-or-go-home scenario each team on Saturday. The Blacks will host the Reds in Austin for the crucial battle to advance to Nationals.
Alexander is a beat reporter for Rugby Today, published author, freelance sports writer and club rugby player for the Potomac Exiles. For more rugby action and his sports takes, follow him on Twitter @alexanderdiegel.