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Second-Half Surge See West in All-Star Final

Thursday Jun 11, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby All-Stars

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Glendale, Colo. – The West collegiate all-stars weathered a rusty and confused first half to defeat the Mid-Atlantic 43-12 Thursday and make Saturday’s National Collegiate All-Star Championships at Infinity Park in Glendale.

The Mid-Atlantic ran out to a 12-6 lead thanks to two quick tries.

“It was frustrating,” said West coach Rich Cortez. “We didn’t follow our game plan in any aspect of the game. We have a 6-9 jumper in the lineout and we still couldn’t hit him. We made poor decisions, and the only reason we were close was that we dominated possession and territory.”

And some snappy goalkicking did the job, too, as three penalties put the West in with three at 12-9 at halftime.

“We had some guys trying to improvise, and it was tough because we had a very, very simple approach,” said Cortez. “We need to. We have players from 11 states, some very big states, and we just can’t get together before this tournament.”

The Mustangs made some adjustments at halftime, although Cortez insisted that had he not made those changes, “it would have been fine.”

He moved outside center Hunter Leland to flyhalf, scrumhalf Bobby Johns to outside center, and brought in Dallas Harlequins phenom James Gallo at scrumhalf.

The changes, plus a few tactical tweaks, worked, and the West ran in four converted tries in the second half en route to the 43-12 victory.

“We did some shocking things, but as we had more time together it started to come together,” said Cortez.

The West will take on Southern California in the final.

- Alex Goff © www.erugbynews.com

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