OMBAC and Denver Barbarians are through to the National DI Club Quarterfinals after each won hard-bitten matches Saturday in Dallas.
It was a windy day and certainly the wind affected tactical decisions all day.
For both teams, the key was their forwards.
The Barbarians played against the wind versus Santa Monica and resolved to keep the ball in the first half.
"We had about 80 percent of possession," said Denver Assistant Coach Karl Savimaki, running the team this weekend. The danger in controlling the ball like that is if you make a mistake, the turnovers can kill you.
"Our forwards were very disciplined," said Savimaki. "We had only two penalties the entire half, and they worked hard."
The teams changed ends with the Barbarians up 10-7 and feeling that, with the wind at their backs, they could extend their lead. It took them a matter of seconds, as Kyle Hitt got the ball just after the kickoff and raced 60 meters for a crucial try. Denver kept playing their possession game, and scored a couple more times before the Barbarians reverted to a field-position tactic. Using the boot they pinned Santa Monica in their end and closed out the game 35-17.
Taylor Howden received praise from Savimaki for his control of the game from flyhalf, but it was the Denver pack, doing so well to recycle the ball and starve the Dolphins of any scoring opportunities, that won the game.
Meanwhile OMBAC edged the Dallas Harlequins 31-27 to advance. The game was one of collisions, with both teams knocking the ball on a bit too much. But in this game also the winning forwards sparked their team.
"I have to give it up to the pack, they worked really hard," said OMBAC flyhalf Zach Pangelinan. "We had some injuries and some younger guys came in for us and did a great job. We didn't take care of the ball the way we should, but we toughed it out."
Jarvis Albury had to come on as a early sub and was instrumental for OMBAC. Chris Bergquist-Turori was one of those youngsters who played well for OMBAC today.
These two teams will meet up Sunday. Players invited to national team camp had been asked to not play, but reports are that Pangelinan has received permission to play before leaving Dallas for camp.
OMBAC 31-27 Dallas Harlequins
Denver Barbarians 35-17 Santa Monica