GLENDALE, Colo. – The final day of a long weekend at Glendale’s Infinity Park came to a close Sunday with three champions crowned at the 2013 Emirates Airline Division I, Division II and Division III National Club Championships.
Old Blue of New York and the Oceanside Chiefs got the crowd going in the Division III Final, the first match of the day. Old Blue got on the board first with a William Nelson penalty kick, but Oceanside picked up where they left off Saturday with killer speed and two tries to close out the half with a 13-3 lead.
Old Blue began to wear down the Southern California side in the second half, tying the match with a penalty kick and a try after 50 minutes. Jerome Ropati and Men’s Eagle Tai Enosa put Oceanside back in the lead with a try each, but Old Blue scored twice in three minutes to take a 27-25 lead with seven minutes to play.
In a frantic final few minutes, Danielson Sialoi seemingly gave Oceanside the late victory with a try to put them up 32-27. They still had to play defense, however, and Old Blue bruised their way to a try before the final whistle. With the game tied, Nelson stepped up to take the conversion kick but sent it just wide of the uprights, sending the Division III Final into overtime.
Old Blue scored the only points in the first of two 10-minute halves with a penalty kick and played gritty defense to keep Oceanside off of the board. Enosa scored his second try of the match in the first minute of the second overtime half to send the Oceanside players into a frenzy, but Old Blue quickly ended the celebrations with a try two minutes later and a 40-39.
With both teams losing players to cramps and injuries, Enosa added his third try of the match in the 97th minute, but another missed conversion meant Old Blue was still within a try at 44-40. Old Blue moved up the field and put pressure on a disciplined Oceanside defense 10 meters from their try zone for the final three minutes, but an Old Blue knock on set up a scrum. Oceanside held strong in the scrum and got the ball to kick into touch, drawing the final whistle and signaling their championship victory.
Wisconsin traveled to Glendale last year for the Division II National Championship and left empty-handed, falling to Rocky Gorge 37-26. Against Wilmington (Del.) on Sunday, Wisconsin put the pedal to the metal by taking a 10-0 lead in the first 10 minutes and never relinquished it on the way to a 60-27 championship victory.
Wilmington did not go quietly, scoring 17 points in the first half to draw within three at halftime, but Wisconsin turned on the heat in the second half. Crispin Cider Most Valuable Player Max Zukowski opened the second-half scoring in the 41st minute and Wisconsin scored five more tries in the final frame to seal the championship.
Life University’s club team played in yet another Final Sunday, following last weekend’s Elite Cup Final loss to San Francisco Golden Gate. Fellow Elite Cup competitor Seattle-OPSB met the Georgia club in the Division I Final and the top level of club rugby did not disappoint.
Life’s AJ MacGinty kicked two penalties in the first ten minutes of the match, but Seattle took the lead in one shot with a converted try from Ifereiumi Naruma and Mathew Trouville. MacGinty added another penalty before Miles Craigwell finished a great team play by Seattle with a diving try in the corner to extend Seattle’s lead. Benji Goff scored Life’s first try in the 34th minute but Seattle responded almost immediately to make it 19-17 at the break.
MacGinty gave Life the lead in the 41st minute with a penalty kick and struck another in the 51st before Garrett Lambert gave the Running Eagles breathing space with a try in the 60th minute. Craigwell scored his second of the day by again finishing a team move, but it was too late for Seattle as Life shut the door in the closing minutes to win the Division I Championship. MacGinty’s 13 points from five penalty kicks and one conversion earned him the Crispin Cider Most Valuable Player award.
In the consolation matches, Saratoga Stampede defeated Belmont Shore 40-28 to finish third in Division III, while Santa Rosa beat Snake River 31-29 in Division II play and New Orleans beat the Elite Cup’s Denver Barbarians 32-28 in the Division I third-place match.