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Tennessee and Alabama advanced to the SCRC finals next week with wins over the weekend. Tennessee outpaced Florida in the second half and Alabama won a wild one at the death to avenge an early season loss to Kentucky.
Florida gave Tennessee a tough go of it for the first 40 minutes but the Volunteers proved to be too much for the Gators. The home side led 12-0, 20 minutes into the game before Florida pulled closer with a score in the 25th minute. The Vol’s put in two more scores before halftime to take a 22-7 lead.
“Both teams had some opportunities to put some points on the board but I think the difference was that we shut it down when they got into our 22,” Tennessee coach Marty Bradley told Rugby Today. “We got a few turnovers, got a few penalties, and we were able to turn them back and they were not able to turn us back.”
The Gators earned a penalty try and a yellow card against Tennessee to start the second half to cut the lead to 22-14 and give them a man advantage.
“The first 10 minutes of the second half and the last 10 minutes of the second half they gave us everything they had and more,” Bradley added.
Florida was unable to capitalize on the man advantage, however, and the Vol’s were able to pull away with a few scores, including one while down a man.
“We have had a really tough year with injuries and it has caused a lot of guys to have to play some different positions for us. Yesterday that played to our advantage for us, while playing a man down. Our yellow card was our loosehead prop and we had a lock that had been playing some prop for us because of injury and he stepped right up and we didn’t lose very much,” Bradley said of the team’s versatility.
Tennessee scored four unanswered tries to extend the lead to 41-14 and put the game away. The Gators added two tries in the final 10 minutes but ultimately fell 41-26.
Tennessee will play Alabama for the conference title after the Crimson Tide won a thrilling contest over Kentucky. The game went back and forth and down to the wire. Kentucky led 32-26 with barely any time remaining but Alabama managed to power over for the score. Still trailing by one, the Tide nailed the conversion to take the game at the death.
It has been a rough go of it the last couple of weeks for the Wildcats. After losing to Tennessee on the final play they suffered another heartbreak in the playoffs.
Alabama managed to avenge an early season 21-12 loss to Kentucky. It took everything they had to do it, however. They will face off with a Tennessee team that has not lost a game in SCRC play in several years. The teams have not met this year but it sure to be a tough, physical contest.
“Alabama is not going to sneak up on anybody. Alabama is a strong program. They are there every year. They have a strong set of forwards and a strong set of running backs and they force you to come up and make tackles. We have quite a challenge in front of us and that is what you expect when you get to the finals,” said Bradley.