Round of 16 Recap: Explosive Start to the Playoffs

D1A Rugby: Round of 16 Recap: Explosive Start to the Playoffs
Photo Credit: Davey Wilson

The first round of the 2019 D1A playoffs are in the books, and teams now shift focus to a challenging set of quarterfinal fixtures.

EAST:

The defending national champions, Life, were able to see off a tough Penn State side 34-3. The result hung in the balance for much of the match, with Life only holding a 10-point lead at the half. However, a four try performance in the second half saw them execute with a sense of precision that was lacking in the first half and put the game out of Penn State’s reach. Daemon Torres stuck out in the win, scoring a hat trick. Life faces the winner of Navy Oklahoma in the quarterfinals.

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The defending national champions, Life, were able to see off a tough Penn State side 34-3. The result hung in the balance for much of the match, with Life only holding a 10-point lead at the half. However, a four try performance in the second half saw them execute with a sense of precision that was lacking in the first half and put the game out of Penn State’s reach. Daemon Torres stuck out in the win, scoring a hat trick. Life faces the winner of Navy Oklahoma in the quarterfinals.

Army hosted Arkansas State in their opening round of the playoffs. The Red Wolves were a step above Army and prevailed, 31-24.  Arkansas State’s fly half, Dylan Boast, was in phenomenal form and showed why he is one of the best tens in the country as he scored the majority of the Red Wolves’ points. Army for the majority of the game remained within striking distance of Arkansas State, but seven points was the closest they ever got to them. Arkansas State faces the winner of Lindenwood Wisconsin.

Lindenwood traveled out to Wisconsin, to take on the Badgers. The lions were simply too good for Wisconsin, registering an emphatic 97-0 victory. The game’s trajectory was set in the opening fifteen minutes, when Lindenwood scored 21 unanswered points. Wesley White had a day to remember, with three tries; while fullback Reece Botha added 27 points to the teams total, mainly through the use of his boot. Lindenwood will now take on Arkansas State.

Navy ensured only Mid-South teams remained in the eastern bracket, as they dominated Oklahoma, 71-0. At the halfway point, Navy led 40-0 and the scoring did not let up in the second half. The Midshipmen continued to score at a blistering pace. Much of the damage was done by the back row, who combined for a total of 25 points. Jermaine Oliver and Sava Voyne both scoring two tries, while number eight Thomas Craig scored one. They will now face Life.

WEST:

Cal were in tremendous form during their fixture against UC Davis, winning, 141-3. The first eight minutes saw Christian Dyer score a hat trick, to set up a commanding 21-0 lead. From there Cal continued the onslaught. Three separate players scored hat tricks, Dyer, Marcus Shankland and Sam Golla, who scored four. Sam Walsh, Cal’s fly half, contributed 46 points to the teams total. Cal faces the winner of Arizona Central Washington.

Saint Mary’s hosted their California Conference rivals, Grand Canyon University. The Gaels put in a strong performance, taking down the ‘Lopes, 74-12. In the first twenty minutes, the Gaels opened a 24-0 lead. The momentum carried through for the rest of the half, after 40 minutes, the Gaels were up by 52. The ‘lopes tightened things up in the second half but were still outscored 24-12. The Gaels will face the winner of BYU and UCLA.

BYU, after a rocky spring semester, came out firing against an in form UCLA side, beating them, 50-12. The Cougars opened with a barrage of tries and for the first 50 minutes of the match were scoring a point a minute. The Bruins scored the final 12 points of the match, but it was too little too late and BYU had already sealed their spot in the National Quarterfinals against Saint Mary’s.

The final game of the weekend saw a close fixture between Arizona and Central Washington.  Arizona hit the lead early with two penalty goals and a try from Robert Figley and Matthew Rogers. CWU responded with a try of their own, but two more tries before the half, saw Arizona build an 18-point buffer between the two squads. Two minutes into the second stanza and CWU had the match back to a two try game, but Arizona’s defense held strong and made sure their opponents would only get within 6 points of their lead. A penalty with three minutes left saw Arizona push the match out to its final scoreline of 28-19. Arizona will now face Cal in the quarterfinals.