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Four exciting matches were held at the 2017 Las Vegas Invitational College Rugby Championship Qualifier Cup Quarterfinals at the Silver Bowl Park in Henderson, Nev. All of the higher seeds, except for one, advanced to the Cup Semifinals as #1 Lindenwood bested #8 Lindenwood-Belleville, 40-14, #5 Notre Dame College beat #4 New England College, 32-14, #3 Clemson defeated #6 Santa Clara, 21-5, and in the closest match of the day, #2 Central Washington survived against #7 Dixie State, 21-12.
The Cup Semifinals start at 2:40 pm with #1 Lindenwood against #5 NDC and then at 3:00 pm with #3 Clemson versus #2 Central Washington.
In Friday’s first match on Field 19, #1 Lindenwood started off with two quick tries before #8 Lindenwood-Belleville even touched the ball. Lions’ Sam Chapman returned the opening kickoff for a try followed by a score off a lineout by Christian Rodriguez. Nick Feakes kicked both conversions for an early 14-0 lead.
Lindenwood’s Giovanni Falco scored next off a turnover to make it 21-0. Lindenwood-Belleville finally got possession and through hands, worked the ball downfield uunder tremendous pressure for a try by Ben Martin.
While it took time for the Lynx to score, the Lions’ speed and strength took no time to find the endzone. Taking a great inside line, Lindenwood’s Michael Baska crossed the whitewash at the end of the half for the 28-7 lead.
L-B began the half with their methodic pace and good passing ending with a try for Coleson Warner. At 28-14, it was all Lions for the rest of the game. Feakes and Rodriguez scored to increase the lead to 40-14 to grant passage to the semifinals.
“We won the game with ball movement and patience,” Lindenwood head coach Josh Macy said. “Belleville did well to possess after they got into the game, but I think we had just taken too many early chances for them. It was great to see quality come off the bench. We are using 4-5 subs a game.”
After losing last year’s LVI CRC Cup Final, #5 Notre Dame College knows what to expect in this year’s competition. The Falcons brought their A game to the quarterfinals against #5 New England College to win 32-14. The NDC restarts were great complemented by its excellent transition from turnovers to tries.
NDC’s Rodney Thomas scored first off an offload by Marcus Tupuola, but NEC responded with a score from Jake Harland. Unfortunately for NDC, it was yellow carded on the try for a high tackle.
NEC was unable to get any offense with the man advantage, but NDC turned up the intensity. After a player went down with an injury thus playing 5 on 7, the Falcons’ Zack Forro saw an opening and scored the short-handed try to lead at the half, 10-7.
Back at full strength, NDC took command in the second half. Forro scored off the kickoff down the sideline and Corben Williams scored shortly after to extend the score to 22-7. NEC’s Andrew Ramsden scored off a quick tap to reduce the gap to eight points, but tries from Forro and Thomas closed the door on NEC. The final two tries from NDC sent it to the semifinals to play Lindenwood.
No. 3 seed Clemson brought a stingy defense to the pitch against #6 Santa Clara to win, 21-5. The Tigers raced to a 14-0 lead after James Rogers and Liam Helstrom both shot gaps to split defenders for tries. Nick Richards kicked the conversions. The SCUTS were able to find the endzone through sustained attack downfield as Ryan Chavkin scored to complete the half, 14-5.
Clemson started the second half with Colin Gregory try as he cut through the line shucking off the final defender to score. Both defenses stepped up for the remainder of the time with the Tigers retaining the majority of the possession. As time ran out, Clemson advanced, 21-5.
In the most competitive match of the day, #7 Dixie State gave #2 Central Washington all it could handle. The Trailblazer defense caused a lot of problems for CWU, but it was taking advantage of turnovers and spectacular plays preventing tries in the endzone proved to the keys of the game.
The Wildcats scored first as Cameron Marek broke a 60 meter run where he was tripped up by the turf passing to Corey Neti for the try. Ian Wright connected on the conversion for the 7-0 lead. DSU came right back converting effective phase play to a pick off the ball from back of ruck scoring Joseph Matavao in the under the posts. CWU looked to score just before the half, but Sinclair Clinton knocked the ball on in the endzone under pressure from a Dixie defender.
Tied at 7-7 at the beginning of the second half, the opening sequence was amazing with a reversal of fortune. DSU’s Desmond Paopao picked up a turnover ball and raced down the sideline to allow his team to take the lead. However, CWU’s Cole Zarconi tracked him down in the endzone preventing Paopao to score. Zarconi retained possession and with CWU now on offense, Clinton redeemed himself with try.
Dixie State refocused and recollected itself and Moliki Mulitao scored down the sideline with some pretty passing. After downing it under the posts, Mulitao, unfortunately missed the conversion and trailed CWU, 14-12.
Needing another score to win, the Trailblazers were in attack mode, but CWU took advantage of DSU’s eagerness picking off a pass for the final try. Zarconi had the intercept and passed to Martin Van Der Wal for the 21-12 game winner.