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Little Rock earned the Red River ticket to the DII quarterfinals this weekend after defeating the Austin Blacks 63-36 and HURT 33-30.
Little Rock jumped out to an early lead in the first half thanks to stellar team play.
“The guys played the best half of rugby I have ever seen Little Rock play,” Little Rock Coach Donna Thomas told Rugbymag.
Little Rock posted 46 first half points and were able to empty the bench in the second half. Hurt soundly defeated the Dallas Reds to advance to Sundays final.
Hurt upended Little Rock by 10 during the regular season.
Thomas stated, “We knew we were in for a fight. We knew what they had. They were a team that powered over us in the first matchup.”
Facing a big size advantage, especially in the centers, Little Rock went into the matchup with a specific game plan.
“We didn’t want anybody taking more than two steps before contact. We played very aggressive defense and didn’t really let them get up and running,” said Thomas.
The game was a very tight, back and forth affair. It was incredibly hard hitting with two Little Rock players going down with broken bones.
“It was the most physical game of rugby I have ever seen,” Thomas added. “It was the physicality that really jump-started Little Rock. It was a team effort but Andrew Linters stopped a HURT player in his tracks really giving us a ton of momentum.”
The game was never separated by more than eight points and with eight minutes left Little Rock led 26-25. A converted try gave Little Rock a 33-25 lead.
With a couple minutes to play HURT missed a penalty but the ensuing 22-meter drop kick resulted in a score for HURT. It was too little too late for HURT as the game ended after the score.
The game was incredibly close and really could have gone either way. Thomas praised HURT's strong effort.
"HURT is a phenomenal team and I have the utmost respect for them. I am proud of our boys for beating such a quality team and excited for the things to come in the future."
Little Rock will play Snake River in the round of eight.