Pacific Coast Speeds to Women's All-Star Title
Monday Jun 1, 2009 in Women All-Stars
(English stands tall for Pacific Coast. Alex Goff photo.)
Little Rock, Ark.– The Pacific Coast won convincingly in the final of the USA Rugby Women’s All-Star 15s Championships, defeating the Northeast 36-5 in the championship match at the Little Rock Rugby Complex on Sunday afternoon.
Playing before a large crowd, both teams went into the game with a passion. Pacific Coast drew first blood, six minutes in, when openside flanker Beckett Royce scored in the right hand corner for a 5-0 Grizzlies lead. Northeast replied immediately, forcing a turnover after the restart and sending right wing Vanesha McGee in the tie it up.
Shocked by how quickly Northeast replied, the Pac Coast redoubled their efforts and scored twice more, at 13 (Royce again) and 25 minutes to lead 17-5 halftime.
In the second half both teams made some adjustments, but the Pacific team enjoyed the better chances and finished with tries in the 51st, 57th and 74th minute to round out the game as the ultimate winners with a final score of 36 – 5.
Pacific Coast fullback and USA captain Ashley English was named MVP of the tournament. She was excellent on defense and was devastating as an added backline attacker.
“Despite the score line it was a hard match the whole 80 minutes,” said Pacific Coast coach Jarred Power. “The Northeast have a strong pack, so we wanted to keep the ball in hand and maintain possession. Our biggest focus was on defense, coming up together and shutting down their options.”
Northeast put Pacific Coast under all sorts of pressure early, but the Grizzlies survived it, and scored off a weakside break from the scrum – Royce’s opening score.
But Power was most pleased with his team’s defensive effort, as the Grizzlies allowed only one try in the tournament as well as their two warmup matches.
In the Tier A relegation match, the Midwest defeated Mid-Atlantic 22-5. This relegates MARFU to the Tier B for 2010.
It took 20 minutes for MARFU to open the scoring and take a 5-0 lead, another 16 minutes of back and forth play until the Midwest created an opening and pushed in a try, converted to lead at the half 7 – 5.
From the kick off again both teams defense dominated until the Midwest got a penalty in front of the posts to extend their lead to 10-5, despite having two players in the sin bin. With one player back and just three minutes played from the restart, the Midwest got in for a try, and extended their lead to go ahead 15-5 in the 61st minute, and then added another to end it 22-5.
In Tier B, Southern California and the West battled for 7th. Neither side wanted to give up that fateful try, and neither did, as a 28th-minute penalty for the West was the only scoring of the day – Mustangs 3 Griffins 0.
Then the All Americans took on the South to decide who gets moved up to Tier A in 2010. The All American’s came out attacking from the whistle, but it was the South that scored first, forcing a turnover and sending the ball through several sets of hands to score. 5-0 South after eight minutes.
Desperate tackling halted several good scoring opportunities for both sides and the half ended 5-0 South.
From the second half whistle the All Americans unleashed a running attack and with just one minute played, led 7-5. The South team was not going to take that and immediately upped their game and mounted attack after attack interspersed with great defense.
But the All-American squad was equally resolute and 20 minutes passed before the South created the chance. A break in midfield looked certain for a try but a bobbled pass offered up the ball to All American Natalie Monroig (Shippensburg), who turned around and ran 99 meters to score. It was a heartbreaker for the Panthers and at least a 12-point turnaround for the All Americans. They led 14-5 rather than being down 7-10.
After that the All Americans rolled 31-5.
2009 Women’s All-Star Championships - Final Results
1st/2nd – Pacific 36, Northeast 5
3rd/4th – Midwest 22, Mid-Atlantic 5
5th/6th – USA Collegiate All-Americans 31, South 5
7th/8th – West 3, So Cal 0
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