The South Men's Collegiate All-Stars reached their second-straight National Collegiate All-Star Championships final after beating the Midwest 57-28 Thursday at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo.
After jumping out to a 14-0 start, the South lost some intensity and the Thunderbirds scored 13-consecutive points. The South would muster another score before halftime for a 21-13 lead, but were displeased with their overall performance to that point.
"We kind of stepped off the gas, and that's never a good thing in all-star rugby, as you saw," said Life and South loose forward Cam Dolan.
"We had a good talk at half and just said, you know what boys, we just need to start supporting each other, because we weren't supporting each other, we were just watching ball, and we want to score 30 points in this half, and we can if we just get back to the basics, and we did."
Led by stellar efforts from Dolan and flyhalf Patrick Sullivan (Arkansas State), the South blew apart the match after intermission.
The Midwest got outstanding performances from Davenport flyhalf JP Eloff and Davenport prop forward Angus MacLellan, while captain and No. 8 Kyle Stroman of Indiana repeatedly asked questions of the South defense with his running.
But the questions were usually answered adequately, as the South forwards were quicker to the breakdown, and their thundering runs broke enough tackles to get the Southerners into the end zone six times in the second half.
"If you miss tackles, the South makes you pay," said Midwest Head Coach Ron Bowers. "We want to play up to the Tier I competitive level, and we had expected a better result. But we got beat at the breakdown."
The off day will be a busy one for the Thunderbirds, as they will study both their own game film and that of the Pacific Coast v. Southern California match (they play the loser).
"We will have a light session and then recovery, but we will be breaking down those films to get ready for Saturday," Bowers said.
The South should have a leg up in terms of maintaining continuity from Thursday to Saturday, as it benefits from a level of cohesion that perhaps no other territory has.
"We're a pretty tight-knit group. We jell together pretty well," said Dolan. "We come from a select few schools, and a lot of us have been on the same all-star teams for at least a couple years now, so the boys know each other really well."