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The first day of the three-day USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship Qualifier at the Las Vegas Invitational ran mostly to form.
Each team played two pool games, and will have one more Friday morning.
After that, there's a long run of playoff matches culminating in the final in Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday afternoon.
In Pool 1A, Life University got a walkover against a late-arriving University of San Francisco, and then eagerly thumped University of Buffalo 33-0. The Runnings Eagles were big and powerful, but also showed good team skill.
Second place in Pool 1A will be between St. Joseph's and UB. St. Joe's made an impression on Thursday, arriving at the pitch in the only large-capacity transportation they could find, a Hummer limousine. The fancy wheels weren't enough to get them past UB, but the young St. Joseph's team rebounded to beat USF. With St. Joseph's still to play Life and UB playing 0-2 San Francisco, Buffalo has a good shot at finishing 2nd.
In Pool 1B it's down to Kutztown and Missouri. KU scored big, as expected, taking Creighton 52-5 and Claremont Colleges 42-0. But Missouri, which used their big bodies to crash through tackles and dare defenses to stop them, were just as good, beating Claremont 40-7 and Creighton 36-7. Mizzou and the Bears of Kutztown face off Saturday morning.
In Pool 1C, Miami was outstanding, using an effective combination of speed and power. Against Pitt they were happy to play defense and force errors and turnovers, which they punished with alacrity.
Air Force used their pace a little bit more and were excellent defensively. Those two will play for 1st in the pool on Friday.
Bracket 1 was rounded out with Pool 1D. The big story here was Western Washington. Expected to perform well, WWU actually performed brilliantly. They edged a tenacious Denver squad 19-10, and then crushed New Mexico State 54-0, showcasing some pace to go along with their solid teamwork.
Joining WWU at the top of the pool was San Diego State. This was no surprise, and the Aztecs will face the Vikings for top in the pool.
WWU, SD State, Life, Kutztown, Missouri, Miami and Air Force are all confirmed for the Bracket 1 quarterfinals. The only pairing to decide is Buffalo or St. Joseph's.
In Bracket 2, Central Washington looked superb in their opening efforts. Tim Stanfill scored on his first touch and their opponents, Indiana and Weber State, didn't score no matter how many touches they got. CWU's brand of power team 7s should see them win Pool 2A. Yale sits 2nd at 1-0-1, having tied Indiana, but it's still all to play for as Yale plays CWU and Indiana plays Weber State. If Yale loses and Indiana wins and the combined margins of victory total 70 or more, then Indiana finishes 2nd. A lower combined margin favors Yale.
Davenport and Utah both felt they could have played better early. Both teams looked dominant late. Utah has an outstanding playmaker in Don Pati, but they are more than that, with the Lauti brothers and Danny James all part of a snappy team effort.
Davenport has an outstanding playmaker in JP Eloff, but showed they are more than one player, with Ryan Hargraves, Lance Cavanaugh, and others all contributing. Davenport and Utah face off at 8am Friday morning.
Utah started slowly at 8am Thursday, and will have to be morning people on Friday.
Stanford pulled off a couple of surprises as they shut out Georgia and beat Cal Poly, also. The Mustangs will likely finish 2nd in a competitive Pool 2C.
And in Pool 2D, UCLA came into the LVI wanting to take care of business and they looked very strong indeed, shutting out both Longwood and Brown. Stony Brook just edged Brown and will have to be better than that to beat UCLA to take 1st.
So in Bracket 2, CWU, Davenport, Utah, Stanford, UCLA and Stony Brook are in the Cup playoffs. Indiana, Yale, Cal Poly and Georgia are all in with a shot.