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Scion Rugby and Japan SDS were crowned champions of the Men’s and Women’s Elite divisions at the 2018 Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday. Taking the field at Sam Boyd Stadium before the playoff stages at the international event, Scion beat Quebec, 14-7, to take the women’s title and the Japan Sevens Development Scot side defeated Tiger Rugby, 12-5, for the America's Cup.
The women were up first and Quebec had the opening crack at the ball. Good ball movement from the Canadian side drove the team into the endzone but a held ball kept them from scoring. The ensuing five-meter scrum was turned over to Scion, however, the east coast club gave it right back. Quebec probed the defense looking for holes and finally found one for the try after a broken tackle. The conversion was true and Quebec led 7-0.
On the restart, Scion gained traction as Ilona Maher streaked across the field to the five. A penalty gave Scion a fresh start and the ball was whipped out to the wing where Saskia Morgan got a step around the corner for a centered try. Kimber Rozier slotted the conversion for the 7-7 tie at the half.
Scion received the second-half kickoff but a penalty stopped their momentum at the 40. Successive penalties moved Quebec inside the 22 where Scion forced a penalty of its own. Two replacements entered the fray for Scion with a scrum at the five-meter line.
The Quebec defense stifled the advance before Maher split two defenders for the breakaway into Quebec territory. Following a penalty, the Canadians tested the sideline against Scion but another infraction once again interrupted play. With the ball, Rozier tossed a skip pass to Emily Fulbrook on the wing only to get tackled at the five. After a quick tap penalty, Morgan slipped by the defense for the match-winning score.
Following the deep kickoff, a penalty to Quebec gave the Canadian side one last chance to score. Starting at the 35, the effort was for naught as Quebec’s forward pass ended the match.
With the America’s Cup up for grabs between Tiger Rugby and Japan SDS, the Men’s Elite match began with the opening kickoff not going ten meters. With the free kick, Japan tested the defense for weaknesses until the SDS squad exposed an overload on the wing for the try. The conversion fell short, but Japan led 5-0.
A penalty to Japan on the restart set up Tiger with its first possession. Go forward ball moved Tiger downfield and penalties continued to give chances to the offense. After one too many infractions, a Japanese player was sent off. With the man advantage, the offense took immediate charge and Cornal Hendricks fought through two defenders for the try. The conversion failed and the teams were tied at 5-5 at the half.
The second half kickoff to Tiger saw it swing the ball from sideline to sideline but Japan stopped their progress with a not releasing call. The subsequent Japanese kick didn’t find touch and Tiger resumed its offense. A turnover gave the pill back to Japan and a high tackle stopped the action at the 35. This time, Japan’s kick found its stop, but another error gave it back to Tiger.
Following a turnover, Japan offloaded finding space on the wing. Pounding the weak side, Tiger was called yellow card for an intentional knock. With a quick tap on the wing, Japan bulldozed towards goal but was stopped at the line. The SDS controlled the ruck and a short pass inside sent it in for the diving score. With the conversion, Japan led 12-5 with a minute left.
Off the kickoff, Tiger’s Hendricks raced down the sideline but a pass back inside was called for a penalty. With one last chance with no time left, Tiger looked for the equalizer on the wing but a final pass didn’t find its mark meters from the try line. With the penalty, Japan held on for the 12-5 win.