Golden Gate: 38
The Austin Huns made history on Saturday when they defeated San Francisco Golden Gate, advancing to the semi-finals of The USA D1 Club Playoffs. For Austin, it’s the first season the elite team is together, and to make it this far in such a tough field of competitors is something very few expected. Meanwhile, the defending champs from last year, Mystic River, were eliminated that same day by NYAC Rugby.
Golden Gate definitely looked the part of an elite squad. Pila Huihui and Volney Rouse (who himself was a dominant player of the PRO league last year) at times made defenders look foolish, especially with the quick cutting running style from Pila that nearly broke a few Huns’ ankles.
Austin, however, played the more complete game overall, dominating possession and pace all game, and winning in the scrum despite being a pound and a half lighter. As a team that is often looked upon as one of the most fit in the country, they used their conditioning to their advantage by allowing the wings to spread the ball out wide in the open field. Quick passing and smart decisions were often able to open up significant gaps in a physical SF defensive front.
This fast paced attack allowed the Huns to get off to an early lead in the beginning, with Peter Malcolm scoring a try only one minute into the first half. However, with two missed conversions by Frenchman Timothee Guillimin, Gate was able to pull close ahead with a converted try of their own only minutes after. Accuracy would continue to be a factor for Guillimin all day, eventually ending the game going 2 for 7 on conversions. That’s a full ten points the Huns missed out on.
Despite their troubles kicking, the Huns found the try zone a total of seven times throughout the game, and were really able to pull away in the second half after it seemed Gate was poised for a comeback after a Volney Rouse try and conversion put them only one score down. But, Guillimin would get some measure of redemption there, nailing a penalty kick to put the Huns up by ten with the final score of the game.
Despite boasting an experienced, athletic roster, Golden Gate’s ultimate downfall was the constant penalties, with a good twenty total minutes spent by their players in the Sin Bin. One such dangerous high tackle called on a Gate player was seen by many as potential grounds for a red card, although the Sir chose not to proceed as such.
Now that the quarter finals have come and passed, only four teams remain on the road to the D1 Title. Belmont Shore, Austin, Chicago, and NYAC. Each team possess a fit and physical roster, all with their own unique attributes and skills that can put teams away.
However the cookie crumbles in this one, for us rugby fans, it’s going to be delicious.
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