The kickoff game of the Men’s Club National Championships between South Bay and Metropolis was a tale of two halves. In the end though, it was Metropolis hanging on with a nail-biting 24-19 win.
At first, every ruck, maul, scrum and bounce seemed to be going Metropolis’s way. South Bay kept gaining momentum and losing it when they needed it the most. At the half, the score read 24-0 and hope seemed to be dwindling for the Rhinos.
“I told our guys to stay focused and have confidence in our game plan,” South Bay head coach Barry Williams said.
When the second half hit, it was a completely different game. South Bay found some late energy to score three tries and come within striking distance. However, when the final whistle sounded, the scoreboard still read of in favor of Metropolis.
“We just had a tough time getting going,” Williams said. “I’m not sure it was because it was our first time in this tournament, but we will use this as a learning experience and move forward.”
“We knew this would be a tough game and emphasized that the first 20 minutes would be our ‘championship’ minutes,” Metropolis head coach Nathan Osborne said. “We thought 24 points would be enough and shut down early, which was an almost fatal mistake.”
In the second match it was Dallas Athletic Rugby Club (DARC) taking on Syracuse. The match started slow with both teams killing their own momentum with poor mistakes and failed support. Syracuse drew first blood with a penalty kick and ended with a try late for an 18-5 win.
“We seemed to be a step behind all day,” DARC head coach Steve Daniel said. “Whether it was our support or getting to our second phase, our rhythm seemed to be a little off.”
From the start, DARC just seemed to be out-of-sync. Every time a big play was made, Syracuse used a stingy defense to rip the ball and the momentum to their favor. With crisp rucking and dominant scrums, Syracuse played consistent rugby to outlast their DARC counterparts.
“We looked good in the first half, but I didn’t want us to lose focus,” Syracuse head coach Steve Heywood said. “We wiped out the scoreboard in our minds and did our best to keep the momentum going in our favor.”
It worked, as the only momentum DARC gained in the second half was a try by scrumhalf Adam Diffley. “I’m not sure what happened, but one minute we have the ball and the next they score,” Heywood said.
Now Syracuse will move on to play Metropolis in the final tomorrow, and DARC will take on South Bay in the consolation. The final will be webcast on USA Rugby's UStream at 10:30am.