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Dallas' Alex Kirwan against Chicago. Dallas Reds Photo.

This past weekend, four teams from the Midwest and Red River gathered in Round Rock, Texas for the second annual Rugby Gold Cup. On Friday, the Austin Blacks clobbered the Chicago Griffins, 54-17, and the Dallas Reds came back to beat Metropolis, 33-26. In the second round of matches on Sunday, Dallas remained undefeated with a 38-17 win over Chicago, and Metropolis was victorious against Austin, 34-12.

The Austin Blacks kicked off the Gold Cup matches with a resounding 54-17 victory over the Chicago Griffins. Fullback Antonio Winn set the tone early with two tries in the first fifteen minutes, followed by outside center Michael Medina and wing Nathan Belachew. Chicago answered at 28’ with a converted to try to close the Austin advantage to 20-7, but the Griffins got no closer in this one.

No. 10 Stephen Jones put two more tries in before the half for the Blacks, and things did not get any easier for Chicago in the second. Winn scored his third try two minutes in, with the Griffins briefly closing the gap at 56’ to 37-12. Hooker Leonard Yandle punched in another Austin score at 60’ followed by a try and conversion from Vincent Dutton. Flanker Derek Watson tallied the Blacks’ last try, with the Griffins earning a last-minute score for the game’s final margin, 54-17.

In Friday’s second match, Dallas had to come back to defeat a strong Metropolis team. “Metropolis came out on fire and quickly scored a pair of tries,” said Dallas Reds president David Dodge. “We were lucky to put a couple of converted tries on the board before the half.”

Pressure defense by Metropolis led to a 7-0 lead with a converted try under the posts. It did not take long for Metropolis to exploit some sloppy backline defense and run out to the 12-0 advantage, but the Reds answered with some fancy footwork in the backline themselves.

Fullback Jake Campey broke through the Metro defense, and flanker Chad Joseph converted to tighten the game, 12-7. The score sparked the Reds to a momentum advantage just before halftime with a loose ball penalty try giving Dallas the 14-12 lead at the break.

“Their pack was very physical and mobile, and they did not look like a team that had been off for the last three months. We played much better the second half, quickly getting a try shortly after the stoppage of play,” noted Doge.

A frustrated Metropolis team earned another yellow card early in the second and the Reds capitalized on the advantage to extend their lead to 19-12. Even with two men in the bin, Metropolis remained dangerous, scoring a try to tie the game at 19 apiece.

Dallas earned a scrum deep in Metropolis territory, taking advantage with a try from flyhalf Pete Santos and the Joseph conversion gave the lead back to the Reds at 26-19. Dallas did not let Metropolis recover this time. Taking advantage of yet another sin bin for Metropolis, the Reds broke through up the gut for the game’s final score, 33-26. 

In Sunday’s first Gold Cup match, the Dallas Reds picked up a 38-17 victory over the Chicago Griffins. With the Griffins attempting a skip pass out wide, wing Kelly Kolberg gave the Reds the early advantage with the intercept try. No. 8 Chad Joseph converted for the 7-0 advantage. Kwame Little broke the line again for the Reds and found prop Chris Hopkins for the match’s second try and 12-0 lead.

The Griffins would not go down easy though, with a long line break and centered try, converted to close the game to 12-7. With the benefit of some defensive pressure by the forwards, Hopkins scored again and extended his club’s lead to 17-7 at the halftime break.

With the high tackle enforcements in full effect, Dallas had to say goodbye to Kolberg for ten minutes, and Chicago took advantage to cut the lead to 17-12. Although it was still a man down, Dallas responded by taking the ball to the house to extend the lead to 24-12. Dodge found that try to be the key to his team’s victory.

“It was a big lift for the boys when [lock] Sal DeMartino scooped up a loose ball off the deck and sprinted 60 meters for a try while Kolberg was still in the bin,” explained Dodge. “Although Chicago came right back down the field and scored, fresh legs off the bench and the expiration of Kolberg’s yellow card kept us on the front foot to the final whistle.”

Little found another gap in the defense and fed Collin Yerian, but Dallas couldn’t quite put this one out of reach as the Griffins answered quickly to close the score to 31-17 with seven minutes to go. A powerful Reds’ scrum from the Chicago’s five put this game to rest with a Joseph try for the game’s final score, 38-17.

The last Gold Cup match of the day went Metropolis’ way, as they held off the Austin Blacks, 34-12. After a tight loss to the Dallas Reds, Metropolis used a more disciplined offensive attack to fend off the Blacks.

“All in all, I thought everyone played with full effort for 80 minutes in both games,” said Metropolis coach Nate Osborne. “It’s something, more than the result, I was very proud and happy with.”

Leading the way for Metropolis were try scorers Melvin Desouza (2), Conor McGill, Adam Diffly, Logan Hanson, and Kavika Penita. Osborne and his Metropolis side are looking forward to hosting the next leg of the tournament. “The Gold Cup matches in both years have been a very tough and high standard of rugby. It’s a competition we look forward to playing, and really sets us up for when our spring season kicks off.”

The next Gold Cup round will be in Minneapolis, Minn. from March 31st to April 1st. With six matches to go, Dallas leads the standings, with Metropolis looking to catch up on its home leg of the tour.