The Collegiate Rugby Championship Qualifier bracket in Las Vegas, Nev. is down to four teams after a pair of close quarterfinals and a couple that weren’t as close.
In one of the two early games, Tonata Lauti scored a brace of tries, accompanied by a Don Pati score, to lead the Utes to a 21-5 victory over UCLA. Utah has rebounded from a pool loss to Davenport with back-to-back victories, perhaps partially because Thretton Palamo arrived in Las Vegas, not to play with Utah, but to coach.
“When Thretton showed up, he really got us energized and back on track,” said Utah’s Winston Harris.
“Thretton brought in a new energy, and when somebody brings in a new energy you kind of feed off that and everybody rides it.”
Directly after the Utah game, Davenport downed Stony Brook 17-0. The Seawolves showed some toughness around the try zone, but insistent Panther pressure prevailed.
The two close games were played feet away. The first one saw San Diego State nearly knock off USA Rugby 7s National Champions Life. The Aztecs led almost the entire game, first 5-0. The Running Eagles leveled the table at 5-5 just before halftime, but San Diego State owned possession in the second half, and put in a second try to take a 10-5 lead it'd hold until the death.
On the last play of the game, Life got a big lift from Darrian Woodson, who did the same thing at Nationals -- penetrate the defense with a long run. The ball was then worked to the middle of the field to a charging Cam Dolan, who was too strong to be pulled down.
The capped Eagle dotted down directly under the posts to tie the match at 10. Colton Cariaga nailed the easy conversion to give Life the last-second win.
The other close match featured Kutztown and Miami. KU’s Gareth Lourens opened the scoring first to give the Golden Bears a 7-0 lead, and Jamie Gregory scored the second, unconverted, to put KU up 12-0.
Miami didn’t have a meaningful possession in the first half. But, with Mike Pelagalli lost to a yellow card in the second half, Miami’s Derek Patick took a long run through the middle of KU’s defense to pull within five at 12-7. With Pelagalli back on the pitch for the restart and momentum swinging to the Reds, Miami was pinged for offsides at the kickoff, ending a comeback bid.
The semifinals match ups are Utah vs. Davenport and Kutztown vs. Life. The winners of those games meet inside Sam Boyd Stadium for the right to play on NBC in June.