CHESTER, PA – All of the teams in the Collegiate Rugby Championship Invitational 7s aka CRC 7s had the chance to stretch their legs on Friday night at PPL Park. Heading into the night, the big mismatches appeared to be Cal v Temple, Life v Penn, and Dartmouth v St. Joe’s.
Cal and Temple were up first.
Things started largely as expected. The first kick from Temple failed to travel 10 meters, and Cal scored from a relatively simple move from the free kick that followed. Temple had some space to use in the first half when they had the ball in hand, but failed to make the decisions to make the most of the space. Good hustle by Temple caused a knock on in the try zone for Cal to keep things almost reasonable. 24-0 at the half.
In the second half, Temple was able to find some of the space they ignored in the first half and scored twice. Final score: Cal 36 – Temple 14.
Maryland v Drexel was a game that looked like it would stay close. A big difference in the game was the success of Maryland to put pressure on Drexel from the re-starts. Maryland kept the pressure on all over the pitch and ended up winning 26-0.
Pool A’s tight game tomorrow will be Maryland v Temple. Temple beat Cal in the second half, and Temple will be ready to play with confidence tomorrow. Maryland will bring solid defense, but Temple will have the hands and speed to counter.
Cal will score a lot of points.
Pool C opened with Michigan v Texas. Texas looked strong early and scored the first try. The plan for Texas seemed to be to keep the pace quick and build pressure, and that worked for the first few minutes. Michigan was able to organize on defense and communicated well with ball in hand. At half it was Michigan ahead 12-5. Michigan scored twice more in the second half before Texas ended the game with a try that was the result of patience on attack and, eventually, quick feet around a ruck and down the touch line. Final score: 24-10 to Michigan.
In the second Pool C game, Navy came out with too much power and skill for Ohio State. It was Navy 17 and Ohio State 0 at the half. Ohio State earned some penalties on attack early in the second half and was able to keep the ball away from Navy for several minutes. Eventually, they were able to create an overload and cross for a try. With a free kick following an improperly taken restart, Navy responded immediately with another try under the posts. Final score: Navy 31, Ohio State 5.
The Pool C key matchup on Saturday will be Michigan v Ohio State. Michigan, with its ability to communicate and be patient in attack and defense, will win and advance.
Penn and Life ran out to get Pool E started. Penn showed holes from the get-go, failing to catch the opening kick and allowing Life to immediately go on the attack and cross for a try less than 90 seconds into the game. A good tackle by Penn on the wing seemed to wake them up a bit. Poor handling from both sides kept all of the action in Penn’s 22 for all but a few moments of the first half. Life up 12-0 at the half.
A penalty to Penn from the restart led to an early opportunity for Penn to attack, but the referee conferred with his assistants and awarded a 22 dropout instead of the try. It is fun to root for the underdog, and hard to root for anyone wearing those Life uniforms so no try was a bummer. Life worked their way back up the field from the 22 and notched another try. Penn made some big hits and had some line breaks and real chances but could not finish. They were outmatched; 34-0 at the final whistle.
Arizona v Virginia Tech started with penalties and knock-ons being traded back and forth. Penalties at the breakdown influenced the entire game with Arizona seeming to infringe more than Virginia Tech. The Arizona defense failed to put the Virginia Tech attackers to deck and it seemed to be one line break after another for Virginia Tech. At the half, it was 17-0 to Virginia Tech.
The second half was more of the same with no real answers from Arizona on attack or defense. The final play was another try for Virginia Tech, with all 14 players basically out on their feet, bring the total to 29-0.
The expectation has to be that Life with play better tomorrow and handle both Virginia Tech and Arizona. That means that so long as Virginia Tech takes care of UPenn–and they will–they will finish second in the pool.
In Pool D, UCLA and Penn State both had some good passages of play in the first half, but neither side could maintain the necessary offensive pressure to score. Several potentially promising moves by both sides were killed by knock-ons, penalties, or poor decision making contributing to the first two things.
In the second half, UCLA struck first with a converted try. The sequence inside the UCLA 22: penalty against Penn State, knock on UCLA, penalty against UCLA, penalty against Penn State, and then a pass or two and a long scamper that ended under the post. Penn State fought back down the field only to have the movement end with a knock on. UCLA won the following scrum and kicked the ball into touch to end the game with a 7-0 win.
Northeastern v South Carolina. Holy smokes! Northeastern has some strong runners. It was 22-7 to Northeastern at the half. The Northeastern tries were largely the result of those strong runners and they didn’t need to show much passing skill. The South Carolina try was the result of a missed played grubber that hopped past a Northeastern player and into the arms of the hustling South Carolina player.
South Carolina had a chance to attack early, but a Northeastern intercept put the Huskies back on the front foot and they soon scored again. The final scored was Northeastern 32 and South Carolina 14.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, Northeastern’s lack of ability to convert tries will certainly hurt them. Chris Frazier scored an early try and looks like a beast. I cannot wait to watch Northeastern tomorrow and see if they can pass when the need to.
Northeastern will win the pool with UCLA in second. Unless Northeastern can’t really pass. Then I will feel silly.
The final teams to play Friday night were in Pool B. Dartmouth looked calm and organized against St. Joe’s. They had almost all the possession and kept their shape in defense when they didn’t. They scored twice, both converted by Madison Hughes, to lead 14-0 at the half.
St. Joe’s capitalized on an early penalty by Dartmouth and was able to score on the subsequent possession. Dartmouth was lucky to get one more try at the end, so the game closed 21-5.
Finally, Kutztown v Notre Dame. Both teams came out ready to compete at the breakdown. KU looked the better team for most of the first half. Notre Dame did score two phases after a high tackle penalty against Kutztown. At the half, Kutztown 14 and Notre Dame 5. KU was able to score scored twice more, showcasing speed and size. Notre Dame also got another try that was the result of a good decision to kick which led to a penalty and then a try quickly thereafter. 26-12 final.
Kutztown did not have the same defensive line and composure as Dartmouth. However, they do have some big athletes. It will be close, but Kutztown will have too much power for Dartmouth. The Big Green, though, will have enough to beat Notre Dame. In a different pool, Notre Dame could be more excited about their prospects for Sunday as they look to be organized and mentally ready to compete.
It was a great night by the river with some solid rugby and compelling match ups.
That’s it for now. Feel free to comment below, please look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@:RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Jamie Wall, Jaime Loyd, DJ Eberle, Cody Kuxmann, Karen Ritter, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.