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St. Bonaventure defeated Lindnenwood-Belleville, 17-14, in the final of the Heart of America Classic Sunday in Kansas City. With the win, the Bonnies punch their first-ever ticket to the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship May 31- June 2 at Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pa.
Just one more spot remains unclaimed for the CRC, and it goes to the winner of the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference Championship April 13. South Carolina won the conference’s automatic bid last year.
In Kansas City, the Lynx entered the final with a clean sheet, having blanked Wisconsin-Milwaukee 38-0 and Wisconsin-Whitewater 26-0 in pool play, defeated New Mexico 24-5 in the quarterfinals and beaten Montana State, 20-0, in the semifinals.
The Bonnies opened with a 29-0 drubbing of New Mexico Saturday, but a second-half comeback saw them upset by Minnesota in the pool finale. There was no such blemish on Sunday, as St. Bonaventure dispatched of Whitewater in the quarterfinals, 20-12, and Arkansas in the semifinals, 28-17.
The Razorbacks were the other team to finish the tournament with just one loss. Arkansas opened with a 10-5 win over Montana State before shutting out Oklahoma, 24-0, to finish Saturday 2-0. The Hogs smoked Milwaukee 43-0 in the quarterfinals, but Alex Rees’ two tries weren’t enough to see them past St. Bonaventure.
In the championship match, St. Bonaventure earned a 12-7 advantage by halftime. The Lynx assisted them in the effort with multiple unforced errors and a yellow card to senior Jacob Gilliam for a dangerous tackle. Nick Lupari scored twice on either side of halftime to help the Bonnies to a 17-7 advantage.
Belleville responded with a long-range try by Coleson Warner, who dummied his way through the seven-man Bonaventure line and outraced everyone over 80 meters. The Lynx knocked-on the next kickoff, but Warner sniped the ball back for Belleville in the breakdown shortly thereafter.
Lupari parried by stealing possession back via a ruck penalty. The Lynx got the ball one more time, but it was another costly breakdown penalty that allowed the Bonnies to toe through the ball and kick it to touch to end the game.