SoCa Collegiates Upset Pac Coast
Thursday Jun 11, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby All-Stars
Glendale, Colo. – The Southern California men’s collegiate all-stars upset the Pacific Coast collegiate all-stars 37-26 Thursday to move to the final of the National Collegiate All-Star Championships.
“I was very confident going into the match,” said SoCal coach Jeremy Ognall. “I felt that for the first time we had the size and athleticism up front to challenge them. But at the same time, the Pacific Coast are an excellent team, and if you ask anyone they would likely have predicted a Pacific Coast win.”
The two teams traded scores throughout a dramatic match. With Pacific Coast up 26-24 center Stephen Mulhall nailed a long-range penalty kick to put his side up 27-26. A Griffins try extended their lead, and then flyhalf Duncan Helm finished it off with a drop goal.
Blessed with a superb backline of Jamie Purcell, Kelm, Nick Regas, Mulhall, wings Peter Tiberio and Josh Cudworth, and fullback Alex Ross, Ognall was full of praise for a forward pack that set a superb platform for the threequarters to use.
“Our plan was to run it up two phases with the forwards, because you can’t just swing it wide all the time,” said Ognall. “They did very well with that.”
Arizona State lock forward Tim Buchanan had an excellent game in the trenches, and captain and hooker Joey Brown anchored a forward effort that owed much to the efforts of back-rowers Eddie McKenna and Richard Herbert.
McKenna, who had an outstanding season in the Super League for Santa Monica, and USA 7s prospect Herbert “were disruptive on defense and constructive on offense,” said Ognall.
The Griffins got a big performance from Regas, for the second straight year. Luke Council had been penciled in as the potential inside center starter, but was ruled ineligible because he is one credit short of the minimum course-load. So Regas stepped in and was outstanding at an unfamiliar position.
SoCal takes on the West in Saturday’s final, and Ognall said, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“We’re not going to change much,” he said. “We have a few things to work on. Two of their tries came when we didn’t push out enough in midfield and they got around us. I don’t know if that was fatigue or lack of communication. Still, I am happy with 75 percent of what we did.”
- Alex Goff © www.erugbynews.com