Life University had unfinished business to take care of when they played against the Denver Barbarians in the DI semifinal Saturday. After having lost 31-26 to San Francisco Golden Gate in the Elite Cup final a week earlier, Life University wanted to redeem themselves and did just that by downing the Barbos 40-37.
Life made a statement in the first two minutes when loose forward Paul Bester blasted over the try line and flyhalf AJ MacGinty slotted the conversion to go 7-0 up.
However, a slump in discipline by Life University in the fourth and 14th minutes, gave the Barbos the opportunity to get onto the scoreboard with full back Max DeAcheval slotting two penalty conversions in 10 minutes to place themselves just one point behind Life, 7-6.
An end-to-end try by the Barbos, which started from a stolen Life lineout on their own try line in the 21st minute, saw Barbos winger Phil White race the ball up the field before off loading to lock Adam Drury, who carried the ball over for the try. DeAcheval converted and the Barbos nosed ahead, 7-13.
At the 30-minute mark, AJ MacGinty’s penalty conversion for Life was successful while a try and conversion combo by DeAcheval five minutes later kept the scoreboard interesting at 10-20 to the Barbos.
Not to be outdone by his opposing kicker, MacGinty ran home a try and converted successfully five minutes later to bring Life within three points at the halfway mark, 17-20.
MacGinty once again got the scoring started for Life in the second half with a penalty conversion in the 43rd minute, thus drawing Life in line with the Barbos on the scoreboard, 20-20.
Denver kept the pressure on with a try by lock John Poynter in the 48th minute, but MacGinty came right back with a try for Life four minutes later, and the teams were equal at 25-25 as neither try was converted.
A powerful crashing try by Logan Collins for the Barbos in the 54th minute saw them take the lead again by seven points, as DeAcheval slotted the conversion to make it 25-32.
Taylor Howden’s side stepping solo run from deep in his own half and subsequent try in the 59th minute gave the Barbos the breathing room they were so desperately looking for. However, the 12-point lead only lasted five minutes before Life lock Tom Katzfey gained momentum and crashed over to score in style for Life, drawing the Running Eagles within seven at 30-37.
A missed penalty conversion by DeAcheval with 10 minutes to go and a missed drop goal by Howden seconds later were perhaps the turning point in the game for the Barbos, as the clock marched towards the 80-minute mark.
Haunted by the Elite Cup Final, Life seemed to change gear as reserve loose forward Jason Davila ran home a try n the 74th minute, which MacGinty was successful in converting. The scores were level, 37-37 and the teams defended with great tenacity as they kept up the attack on each other.
Just as the crowd were bracing for extra time, the referee let the game play past 80 minutes and a lapse in concentration resulted in a penalty being awarded to Life, which McGinty slotted with ease to put the Running Eagles up 40-37. The game was called seconds.
“We had unfinished business to take care of this weekend,” said loose forward for Life, Paul Bester. “We needed to redeem ourselves and we got a second chance to do that. So we had to make the best of the second chance. After all, how often does one get a second chance in Life.”