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Fort Benning, Ga. - The US Air Force rugby team and the Coast Guard will clash tomorrow at Fort Benning for the 2011 Armed Forces Championships after finished #1 and #2 in the standings following Day Two of competition.
Air Force slammed Army 55-10 in their third round match, while Coast Guard moved to 3-0 with a 25-7 defeat of the US Marine Corps. That set up a fourth-round match of two 3-0 teams, which Air Force won 27-3.
For Air Force, it’s yet another trip to the final, and for Coast Guard, it’s their second trip in two years.
“We’re feeling pretty good about things,” said Commander Rick Horner, who runs the Coast Guard team and works out of the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala. “We were second last year and we’ve got a lot of those guys back, plus some guys from the Coast Guard Academy who have helped us out. We don’t get to play together much and we’re not really funded, so it took us a while to get into the swing of things in this tournament.”
Last year Coast Guard finished pool play 2-1-1, tying Army and making the final on points difference. They were eager to go one better in order to prove 2010 was no fluke. They did that on Wednesday, beating Army 19-7 and Navy 18-8.
The key to their game is kicking.
Callan Robbins of the Sacramento Rugby Club has been outstanding in kicking from the hand and from the tee. He and outside center John Leo (Norfolk Blues) have used their boot to pin their opposition in their own 22, forcing them to face a long field.
“The kicking game has helped,” said Horner. “Physically we’re one of the smaller teams, but we’re trying to play more of the way Air Force plays, and spin the ball wide.”
Up front, San Diego Aztec Sean Lindersmith leads in the front row, and said the good start and well-organized recover day was good for morale.
“The rest day is huge,” said Lindersmith. “When they put that in it allowed guys to refuel and recharge and it has made the rugby a lot better. We have a good combination of guys with experience and newer guys. We were happy to get over the Army hurdle.”
Going into the second day, Lindersmtih said they were concerned with one game at a time
“We’re worried about the Marines and winning that game to ensure we get into the final. Then after that we worry about the next game. Air Force is great, but, you never know, we certainly can give Air Force a run for their money.”
Day Two Scores:
Coast Guard 25-7 Marine Corps
Air Force 55-7 Army
Navy 17-13 Marine Corps
Air Force 27-3 Coast Guard
Navy 37-8 Army
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