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The Bulldogs bested Belmont Shore to 19-7 to claim the men’s club 7s national championship at Columbia University in New York, NY. The side comprised of mostly College All-Americans went 6-0 on the weekend in route to a title.
The Colorado based side coached By Steve Lewis battled Belmont Shore in the final game of pool play. They overcame a 7-0 lead to win 15-7 and claimed the top spot in the group.
As a result of winning the pool, the Bulldogs took on Dallas in the quarterfinals. After dispatching the Reds, the Bulldogs knocked out Mystic River in the semis. Belmont Shore bested Old Blue 7-5 in the quarterfinals and then cruised past Denver 29-7 to set up a rematch in the final.
The Bulldogs opened the game on the ascendency as they took hold of their own kickoff. After swinging the ball left, referee Mike O’Brien whistled the play dead and conferred with AR as to whether a high tackle warranted a yellow card. He declined to issue Belmont Shore further action than the penalty and play ensued.
Less than a minute later, however, the California side committed a second high tackle and the referee was much less forgiving, sending the Bulldogs up a man.
Harley Wheeler dashed through the defense after running over one of the players. He offloaded to Tim Stanfill who deftly found Aaron Matthews streaking through a gap. The St. Mary’s product dashed through a gap an snuck in next to the posts.
Belmont Shore looked to have cut into the lead but the Belmont player stepped out of bounds before scoring on the Bulldog goal line. Off the ensuing line out, Aaron Matthews found a gap to reset the defensive line inside Bulldog half. JP Romero found space off the ensuing ruck and looked to be home free. He was chased down, however, but the Lindenwood product offloaded to Chris Nelson who strolled in under the posts to extend the lead to 14-0.
Belmont Shore struggled to get into the game in the second half and its frustration continued with a second yellow card with less than three minutes to play. The western side looked to make something out of nothing near its own goal line but was ultimately turned over inside the 22. Up a man, the Bulldogs swung it left and Marcus Tupuola extended the lead to 19-0.
The California side managed to score right as time expired but it was too little to late. The Bulldogs claimed their first ever USA Club Rugby 7s National Championship.
The Bulldogs only surrendered a handful of tries on the weekend. The defensive prowess and the teams pace really set the team apart on the weekend. One of the youngest teams in the tournament, the Bulldogs could be a mainstay for years to come.