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1999 National Men’s Division II Rugby Championships

Quarterfinal Pools A, B, & C, Fort Worth, TX
May 22-23, 1999

By John Via

With a beautiful sunny day and the Met-Life blimp hanging nearby in the Texas sky (covering the Colonial golf tournament), twelve of the best Division II clubs put on an excellent display of rugby. The quarterfinals were hosted by the Fort Worth Rugby Football Club and sponsored by Guinness, Wittnauer Watches, The Springbok Pub, Hooker Rugby Supply, and the Fort Worth Parks and Community Services department. The Westside Condors (Pool A), Fresno Thundercocks (Pool B), and the Grand Rapids Gazelles (Pool C) advanced to the Division II Championship finals to be held in Chicago on June 5-6. In pool D, held in Chicago, Orange County defeated Fredrick 22-20 to also advance to the Division II finals.

Complete brackets or tournament information.

Pool A: Westside Condors

Westside Condors 23, Las Vegas 22

A controversial penalty try awarded just before the final whistle gave the Westside Condors (#1 seed) a 23-22 victory over a dejected Las Vegas side. Westside came out fast and put immediate pressure on Las Vegas, securing a penalty just outside the 22m line. Westside’s Kevin Botha was wide on his first penalty kick, and Las Vegas immediately countered, quickly moving the ball into Westside’s end of the field. Las Vegas used the wind to keep Westside on the defensive for the next twenty minutes of the match. Las Vegas inside center Dallas Orchard was good on penalty kicks from 30 and 22 meters to give Vegas a 6-0 lead. Botha was successful on a 20m penalty to cut the lead to 6-3, but Las Vegas quickly moved within Westside’s 22, and Orchard was good on his third penalty kick to make it 9-3. Westside scored the only try of the first half following an offsides penalty by Las Vegas. Westside spun the ball to their fullback, who set the ball about 5m out, and lock T.K. Grant carried three Vegas players over the try line on a banger to make the halftime score 9-8.

Las Vegas went up 16-8 early in the second half with a skillful try by winger Graham Neil, who chipped over the Westside defense and scampered 30 m into the corner, and Orchard added the conversion. Westside made it a one-point game again when Billy Harmon crashed in for a converted try on the third consecutive banger following a lineout at Las Vegas 22m line. Westside got their first lead of the game, 18-16, when Botha made a 15m penalty kick following a penalty against Las Vegas for pulling down a maul.

Las Vegas mounted a sustained attack and capitalized on Westside’s errors to add penalty kicks by Botha from 20 and 38 meters to regain a 22-18 lead, but failed on a third penalty kick attempt from 38m. Westside got the ball back and methodically moved the ball from their own 22 m line to the Las Vegas 5 m line, collecting three offsides penalties along the way. Westside was awarded a scrum at the 5m line following a Las Vegas knock-on on an attempted interception. Westside won the scrum and started driving toward the try line when Las Vegas’ flanker broke off early and rejoined the scrum. The referee signaled advantage, the Vegas front row stood up to stop the Westside drive, and the referee signaled a penalty try giving Westside a 23-22 lead. The conversion was missed and the final whistle blew. A very difficult way to finish a hard fought match. Referee Miguel Fernandez of the NERFU explained after the game that he had warned the Las Vegas front row twice previously for the same offense, and felt that Westside would have scored if not for the infraction.

Consolation: Woodlands 32, Burlington 29

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The Woodlands began the match expecting a victory but missed several early scoring opportunities due to missed passes. The Burlington forwards started to control the match and put together two long tries that were scored on fifth or sixth phase to go up 14-0. Burlington increased their score on two tries by their loose head prop, a conversion and a penalty to lead by 29-0 at half time. Unfortunately for Burlington it was not enough as the Western champions struck back.

The second half was a completely different game as the Woodlands unleashed a six try barrage by Laskie (2), Pooler (2), Fice (1) and Talakai (1) and a conversion (Barraclough) that left Burlington down 32-29 with less than 5 minutes to play. Three of the tries were beautiful backline efforts by Gatlin, Hawkes, Pooler, Laskie and Barraclough from 80, 50 and 65 meters. Burlington then put together one last attack and were awarded a penalty about ten meters from the Woodlands try line but a superb goal line stand exhibiting ferocious defensive tackling allowed the Woodlands to secure a scrum, the ensuing clearing kick, and a remarkable comeback victory.

Semi-finals:

Westside Condors 37, Burlington 29

The Westside Condors put on a clinic of multiphase rugby to score their first two tries by fullback Mike Cavanaugh and winger Tim Lane to go up 12-0. Bill Harmon then scored a try off a blocked clearing kick attempt to extend the Condors lead to 17-0. Burlington was successful on a penalty kick and was awarded a penalty try to make the score 17-10. The Condors countered with two converted tries and a penalty kick to take a 34-10 lead at half time. In the second half Burlington mounted a comeback attempt, scoring 19 unanswered points but came up short, 37-29.

Las Vegas 50, Woodlands 38

Las Vegas and the Woodlands appeared evenly matched in a hard fought first half of exciting fast paced rugby. Las Vegas posted two tries, one conversion and a penalty, and the Woodlands scored two tries by Gatlin, one try by Fice, and three conversions from Barraclough, to give the Woodlands a 21- 15 lead. Early in the second half Philip Devos scored a converted try on a driven lineout and the Woodlands went up 28-15. The Woodlands now seemed in command of the game but an unforced error caused a turnover and Las Vegas capitalized to score a converted try. The Woodlands replied almost immediately with a try under the posts by Hawkes and Barraclaugh’s fifth conversion, to gain a 35-22 lead. Las Vegas reduced the deficit to six points when they scored a converted try off a scrum when the Woodlands failed to gather the kick-off. Las Vegas then added another converted try shortly afterwards to take the lead by 36-35. The Woodlands responded by marching up the field through a series of rucks and a 25 m dropped goal by Ian Barraclough put them back into the lead by 38-36. With only six minutes remaining, the Woodlands looked to have secured victory but the Las Vegas kick-off was dropped and a charging Las Vegas player kicked the ball through and beat the Woodlands cover defense to score a converted try to make it 43-38. Las Vegas added an additional converted try from a Woodlands’ mistake in the last minute of the game to make the final score 50-38. Rugby as it was meant to be and the most exciting game of the weekend.

Pool B: Fresno

Final: Fresno 27, Raleigh 13

Fresno used the wind and smothering pressure to gain a 12-0 halftime advantage over Raleigh. Scrumhalf Stephan Steyn scored both first half tries and Rob Swanback added one conversion. Early in the second half, Fresno’s number eight Dan Wilson scored a try on the fifth phase following a scrum, and Swanback added the conversion for a 19-0 lead.

Raleigh finally got on the scoreboard on a 45 m penalty kick by Bruce Urqehart. Bruce Urequart then picked up a Fresno knock-on at midfield, raced 55 meters and touched down under the posts to close the gap to 19-10. Urequart’s conversion was good and Raleigh looked like they might mount a serious comeback. Fresno withstood a concentrated Raleigh attack, and the teams traded penalty kicks - 30m by Fresno’s Rob Swanback, and a 42 m by Raleigh’s Urequart - to make the score 22-13. Lance Hughes added Fresno’s final try with a 20 m run in the last 5 minutes to make the final 27-13 in a hard fought, very physical match.

Consolation: Springfield 31, Amoskeag 19

Springfield used their forwards for a sustained series of bangers off the kickoff and earned an early try by their eight man to go up 7-0. Springfield then began to spin the ball wide to the backs, who demonstrated their ball handling skills to produce a 60 meter (13-11) and a 37 meter (12-13) tries, and a penalty kick (13) to go up 24-0 at the half. Amoskeag’s forwards came out strong in the second half and scored two converted tries to close the deficit to 24-14. Springfield countered with a 22 meter burst and a try under the posts by their #5 lock to extend the lead to 31-14. Amoskeag added a last try by #14 in the corner, but missed the conversion, to make the final 31-19.

Semi-finals:

Raleigh 22, Amoskeag 14

In the most evenly played match of day 1, Raleigh scored first after a 10 minute defensive stand by Amoskeag within 10 meters of their goal line to go up 7-0. Raleigh’s gained its next 8 points from Amoskeag errors with a penalty kick and a try on a poor kick by Amoskeag’s scrumhalf from the base of the scrum that went straight up, was caught and touched down by Raleigh’s flanker. Raleigh scored another try before half-time to give them a 22-0 lead. Amoskeag came out strong in the second half and used the wind to keep Raleigh on the defensive. Amoskeag scored two converted tries in the second half make the score 22-14, but Raleigh’s ability to control the ball in their forwards held off Amoskeag’s comeback attempt.

Fresno 37, Springfield 15

Fresno gained a 20-5 halftime lead playing with the wind in the first half. Springfield scored early in the second half to make it 20-10, and then mounted a 20 minute sustained attack but were unable to draw closer. Fresno broke it open by spinning the ball wide to their backs and finished with a well-earned 37-15 win that was closer than the final score indicated.

Pool C: Grand Rapids

Final: Grand Rapids 38, Albany Knicks 14

Grand Rapids looked like champions by dominating Albany in the Pool C final. Grand Rapids ran out to a 26-0 halftime lead, extended it to 38-0, and cruised in for an impressive 38-14 victory. Wing Jeff Cowdrey scored Grand Rapids first try on the seventh phase of a team effort. Joff Mooar added the conversion. Shortly thereafter, Shawn MacCortey stole an Albany lineout and Scott Lawrence went 15 m for the try to make it 12-0. Jeff Cowdrey struck again when he intercepted an Albany pass and went 55 m and centered the ball under the posts and Mooar added the conversion to extend the lead to 19-0. Grand Rapids got their last try of the half from a line out when Scott Lawrence had a nifty 25 m run and fed outside center Brett Howell who carried it the last six meters and scored under the posts to make the halftime score 26-0. Early in the second half, Sean Collins got Grand Rapids on the scoreboard again. Grand Rapids won a scrum, and used five players (9 to 10 to 12 to 7 to 13) to cover the 40 meters. The conversion was missed and the lead was now 31-0. Grand Rapids scrum half scored their last try of the day on the third phase following a lineout to make it 38-0. Albany scored two late tries by Tony Lera and Dave Robbins, and two conversions by Charles Colley to make the final score 38-14.

Consolation: Mission 30, Atlanta Old White 13

Old White again scored first and held on for a 13-10 halftime lead, but could not hold off Mission’s sustained attack in the second half which yielded four unconverted tries.

Semi-finals:

Albany 36, Atlanta Old White 16

Old White kicked off and scored a try in the first two minutes to go up 7-0, and then used the wind to convert two long penalties to make it 13-0. Albany fought back with two unconverted tries to make it 13-10 at the half. In the second half, Albany scored two tries to go up 22-13. Old White then countered with a drop goal to close it to 22-16. Albany’s fullback counter-attacked from Old White errors to add two late tries to make the final score 36-16.

Grand Rapids 34 Mission 20

Grand Rapids’ Joff Mooar scored a try, two conversions, and five penalty kicks against the wind in the first half to go up 26-3. Aided by the wind in the second half, Mission mounted a counter attack and scored two converted tries (Joe Simone, Dan Malooney) and a penalty kick by Rich Kelly. Mooar added three second-half penalty kicks to make the final 34-20 Grand Rapids.

Pool D: Orange County

Final: Orange County 22, Frederick 20

Consolation: Montauk 27 Buffalo Old Boys 19

Semi-finals:

Orange County 36, Buffalo Old Boys 30

Frederick 30, Montauk 19

 


 
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