Berkeley Wins Trifecta of Championships with WPL Crown
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Berkeley, Calif. is turning into a rugby version of Title Town USA, especially when it comes to women's rugby. On Sunday, the Berkeley All-Blues defeated the Twin Cities Amazons 17-8 in the Women's Premier League National Championship game.
Earlier this year, the All-Blues claimed the first-ever Women's Club Sevens National Championship and the Pacific Coast Grizzlies (comprised of mostly All-Blues) won the Emirates Airline USA Rugby Women's All-Star Sevens National Championship.
After besting the San Diego Surfers in the semifinals on Friday November 11, the All-Blues were able to recover on Saturday and come out strong against a very good Twin Cities Amazons team. The encounter was as physical as they come, with both teams absolutely throwing everything they had at the opposition.
Incredible back play from the All-Blues made the difference for the Californians, with an experienced international fullback in Ashley English, and winger Vix Folayan always threatening the Zons defense.
Berkeley's best defense was a great offense, consistently pressuring the women from the Twin Cities. A break by Phoebe Boone ignited the first hint of what was to come from the All Blues, slicing through the line and finding support to finish. In the first instance, Folayan dotted it down for Berkeley, and gave her team a 7-0 lead early.
The Zons proved they had some weapons of their own, with a side that boasted many current and former Women's Eagles. Amy Kugler made her presence known by cutting through the defense, but the pass was deemed to be forward and the move was halted. The Zons camped out in the Berkeley half several times, and eventually they were rewarded.
They eventually crossed the line though before halftime, offloading very well in contact and releasing the Zons fullback to turn the corner on Berkeley, despite a thumping jersey tackle inches away from the line. After a brief deliberation between referees, the Zons' hopes were confirmed and the scores would stay at 7-5 in favor of Berkeley at the half.
Handling let both teams down in the second half, but Berkeley showed a small chink in their armor as their penalty count started adding up, eventually resulting in a yellow card.
The first second half points were awarded to the Zons with a penalty. However, the attacking prowess of Berkeley showed again and this time the outstanding outside center, Kelly Griffin, showed her try-scoring ability (she led the WPL with 10 regular season tries) to score the go ahead try for the All-Blues.
A back and forth volley of attacks made up the rest of the match, with an opportunistic drop goal by Berkeley's flyhalf, which proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Zons, despite a savage effort with time ticking down.
A trifecta of National Championships for the women marks the start of what is likely to be a dynasty in the Bay Area.
Berkeley All Blues 17
Tries: Folayan; Griffin
Cons: Bryson (2)
Twin Cities Amazons 8