California Maritime Academy v Salve Regina University
The finals match of National Small College Rugby Organizations championship
weekend at Infinity Park Rugby Stadium in Glendale, Colorado was a spirited
battle featuring well-regimented and powerful maulwork by the Keelhaulers
forwards combatted by sublime offloads and scrappy opportunism of the
three-time, last-four attendee Seahawks.
Salve pressured early inside Maritimes 22, but a pair of penalties assessed for
not releasing the ballcarrier at tackle permitted Keelhauler standoff Kevin Raff
to clear his lines.
Maritime were on the front foot in the tenth minute inclose to Salves tryline,
crossing twice though they were unable to ground. Salves desperate defense kept
the Keelhaulers at bay until they were caught laying on the ball and
quickly-tapped ball swung wide had outside center Quinn Turner put wing Alfred
Knapp in space for 50 down the right touchline.
Salve got onboard in the 16th minute when wing Albert Tougas flippered himself
into space and closed the last thirty to ground the matchs initial try: 5-nil
to Salve Regina.
Cal knotted scores just past midpoint in the half as fullback Will Fitzpatrick
shot through a gap and sped to Salves 22 before offloading to inside center
Paul Stetson who closed well to touch down and everyone had five.
Salve got theirs back after five strenuous raps on the Keelhaulers door had
8-man Ryan Shilalis on a darting line into goal from five meters out to ground
for his own conversion and it was 12-5 to the Seahawks after 30 ticks.
No more scores in a first half that featured wee canny lookers over the top of
the scrum by Maritime halfback Jason Herring countered by fine, cutting returns
by Seahawks fullback Glen Miles, and multiple meters-gained from maul
slippage-and-crashes by Keelhauler backrow lock Lonnie Shankling against the
banging openfield running of Seahawks lock Jesse DiTullio and sure-handed
lineout grabs of engine mate, Zack Moreau.
Maritime openside Kyle Lewis saw yellow for a late and dangerous hit on Miles at
minute 52 and Salve realized a penalty goal five minutes later with Turners
sticksplitter from 36 meters outside the right post and it was 15-5 in favor of
Lewis, whod been a magnet for Maritime lineout tosses, returned to the pitch
with vigor, grounding in the corner at the 62nd minute and Maritime had drawn to
within five as electricity in the Stadium popped, crackled and fizzled. The
crowd of near 1,000 alternately held their collective breaths and hollered
encouragement to their heroes on the pitch.
Maritime lock Alex Krauter got an enforced ten minute rest after a late hit at
the 65th minute, and the match rocked on with tightly-worked mauling by Maritime
and the exciting distribution of the Seahawks three-quarter line keeping
everyone in its thrall.
Seahawks extended their lead at minute 75 when loose ball gotten to Tougas from
breakdown five meters from Maritimes goaline allowed him to cross-and-dot: with
Shilalis towering conversion from just inside touch, it was 22-10 as everybody
checked their timepieces and reminded each other to breathe.
California Maritime were able to close to within a converted goal near time, as
#11 and captain Kevin Hawke knifed through the defense for a try which put
scores at 22-15, but that was the match as referee Tim Luscombes last blast
indicated time and for Salve Regina University Seahawks RFC, third time was
indeed a sublime and significant charm.
Keelhaulers Try: Stetson, Lewis, Hawke
Seahawks Try: Tougas (2), Shilalis; Con: Shilalis (2); Pen: Shilalis
Match Officials: Tim Luscombe, Larry Johnson, Craig Tarr