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Seattle won the 2014 USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship with a 29-26 defeat of Old Blue in a thrilling final that saw six lead changes. Old Blue carried a two-score lead into halftime, but Seattle’s ability to bring firepower off the bench was unmatched by New York, which saw both of its Eagles watching injured from the sidelines in the game’s final seconds.
Luke Hume had been looked to for big plays all tournament by his Old Blue teammates, and he made a clutch line break to snatch the lead in the final with not a lot of time left. But he then limped off with an injury, joining Nate Augspurger, who suffered a nasty blow on Saturday, on the sideline as one of Seattle’s many Eagles won the game.
Seattle drew first blood in the opening half through wing Tim Stanfill, who fended Marcus Henderson and raced around the edge for a try. The conversion was missed, making it 5-0. Henderson got his try not long after, though, and converted it put Old Blue on top 7-5.
Seattle regained the lead after turning over Old Blue in a set piece. Kellen Gordon made a break up the touch line and dished to Miles Craigwell outside him, but Hume bundled the fellow former 7s Eagle into touch. Seattle immediately turned the ball back over, and Mike Palefau gutted the defense for the Saracens’ second try.
Old Blue responded after consecutive offloads from Morgan Findlay and Derek Lipscomb set Michael St. Claire free for the leveling score. With the conversion, Old Blue led 14-12.
That lead was extended right on halftime, when Lipscomb sucked in three defenders before getting the ball to Findlay, who shifted it to an open Hume and eventually James Bird for another try. With a third Bird conversion, Old Blue led 21-12 going into the break.
Seattle, not able to afford a bigger deficit, opened the second half with back-to-back tries. After a series of phases, Kellen Gordon found himself one-on-one against the smaller St. Claire, and he bullied his way over for the first.
Isimeli Daveta was one of a number of Seattle’s subs who came on for the last five minutes, and he had to score twice to earn his five points. He ran in first off a quick lineout, but it was called back because of some issue revolving around the lineout. Daveta got in shortly thereafter, though, putting Seattle up 22-21.
Hume then made a massive play for Old Blue, darting through the Seattle defense and offloading to Bird for the go-ahead try. With 90 seconds left on the clock, New York led 26-22. Hume was injured on the play, though, and 90 seconds proved too many.
Seattle subbed on John Cullen, and the big man banged the ball up one touch line. Saracens then spun it to the opposite wing, and Rocco Mauer broke through one arm tackle and was off to the races for the game winner. Peter Tiberio converted, adding icing to the cake.
The win gives Seattle its record seventh National Championship, third in four years and second in a row.
Tries: Stanfill, Palefau, Gordon, Daveta, Mauer
Cons: Suniula, Tiberio
Old Blue 26
Tries: Henderson, St. Claire, Bird (2)
Cons: Bird (3)