LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Davenport is hoping the third time will be the charm against Life. After falling to Canterbury’s No. 1-ranked team twice this season, the Panthers will take another shot at the Running Eagles after dispatching San Diego State in last week’s opening round of the D1A Playoffs.
In 2015, Davenport played Life extremely tough, losing two matches by a combined 10 points. This season has been a different story, as the Running Eagles have beaten the Panthers by an average of 41 points over two games.
“It’s been a bit of a missing piece for us this spring, and I think we saw some of our potential there against San Diego State,” said Davenport Head Coach James Wood.
What Wood and his staff saw was their team finally get the chance to play a more expansive brand of rugby in Southern California after weeks of dealing with heavy snow in Michigan. The results included seven tries and 43 total points – its highest scoring output of the season.
The bonding experience on the road, an opportunity to defrost in the San Diego sun, and putting a bunch of points on the board should provide Davenport with the positive mojo needed heading into this difficult Quarterfinal matchup.
“Minus a few sunburns, the guys really enjoyed the trip out west and the opportunity to play rugby on a dry pitch with a dry ball,” Wood said. “I think it was very important for us to score points, if for no other reason than to realize that we are capable of doing so.”
Regardless of the success the Running Eagles have had over the Panthers this season, there are no false pretenses regarding Davenport’s ability floating around Life’s camp. The Mid-South Champions have had too many tough battles with their conference rival to suspect anything other than a difficult test come Saturday, April 23, and are especially worrisome of the Panthers’ all-senior back row of Dominique Bailey, Connor Schilling, and Carl Smith.
“Davenport have tremendous athleticism in their back row which provides them the ability to push the tackle line up in defense and play off each other in edges of the field,” commended Life Head Coach Scott Lawrence. “We really like the constructive way they play the game.”
Davenport’s coaching staff is equally familiar with its opposition, and sees a very special team in Life, but notes that the Running Eagles’ supremacy has nothing to do with size, speed, or athleticism.
“They are disciplined, smart, and make few large mistakes,” Wood complimented of Life. “They play very unified rugby one through 23. I wish there were more to say, but in my mind it’s as simple as that.”
The D1A Quarterfinal clash featuring two Mid-South sides kicks off at 1 p.m. ET and will be streamed online by the Life U Network. The winner of Saturday’s contest pitting Davenport against Life will face the team that advances from Saturday’s D1A Playoff match between Indiana and Lindenwood April 30.