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Outside of a 7s contest, Lindenwood and St. Mary's have never met. Saturday, they tangle in the D1A semifinals in Moraga, Calif., in what should be an exciting contest between evenly matched teams.

"The best thing is both teams have the element of surprise. Obviously, geographically we don't get to play each other, so I think it will be a great match," said Lindenwood coach JD Stephenson. "I think they play a really exciting style of play, and it's great to watch, so I think for rugby fans that are coming out to watch, it should be a great day of running rugby."

The records wouldn't indicate that, though. The Gaels have been nothing short of dominant this season, posting wins over BYU and Cal, dropping only the return match to BYU and absolutely crushing everyone else in their path.

On the other hand, Lindenwood finished third in its conference. The Lions have claimed three wins over two-time D1AA champ Davenport, but they've not yet been able to get past Arkansas State or Life. However, in recent playoff rugby, neither has St. Mary's. The Gaels fell to Life in the D1A final last year, and they were bounced from the playoffs by Arkansas State in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Though their seasons have been starkly different, St. Mary's and Lindenwood have played like competition. The Gaels loaded up their schedule with tough men's clubs and the best college teams west of the Mississippi. Lindenwood played some high-level men's sides and the best college teams east of the Mississippi. And, the reality is, both teams are playing their best rugby in recent years.  

"I think our team chemistry's come along great this season, much better than last year," said St. Mary's flyhalf Garrett Brewer. "We've all just clicked very well, and that's helped us out a lot this season. I think that's the biggest thing that's helped us this season, our chemistry and our ability to understand our teammates."

Lindenwood is playing its way through some turmoil. The Lions mourned the death of a teammate at playoff time last spring, they underwent a coaching change midseason, and they've seen a starter recently suspended. Through it all, they've given the likes of Arkansas State and Life everything they could handle. And most of the season they did it without star fullback Morgan Findlay, who's back and reportedly 100-percent.

There are fantastic players on both sides of the ball in this game, guys with realistic international and pro aspirations. And it should make for arguably the most compelling match-up of any college playoff so far this spring.