Red River Recap: Austin Teams Advance

It was an all Austin affair, as teams from the Texas Capital enjoyed a lucrative weekend.

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Men’s Division I:

The Austin Blacks and the Dallas Reds, resumed their rain abandoned game from April 13, over the weekend, to determine who would represent the Red River in the Men’s Division I National Championships. Play was resumed at the start of the second half, with the Reds trailing 22-0. The Reds needed to take at least 4 more competition points, than the Blacks, away from the contest, and with Austin holding a four score lead, it was never going to be easy. The second half was a much tighter contest than the first, with the Reds winning it 14-12; however, the damage had already been done and the Austin Blacks claimed the top spot in Red River Division I men’s play for the second time in as many years.  
 

Men’s Division II:

Heading into the weekend there was excitement around the four men’s teams entering the semifinals, they were all buzzing with excitement knowing what potentially was in store for them. Each team’s optimism was justified, based off how close each of the semifinals were. The first of the weekend saw Houston Athletic take on Dallas Rugby. In a close match, HARC prevailed 27-24. It didn’t seem to be a close semifinal at first, as Dallas shot out to a 24-0 lead at the half led by a two try effort by fullback, Alexander Elali. A try in the 42nd minute to Houston’s Rory Gleeson seemed to spark a change in momentum. Form there Houston scored 24 unanswered points in half an hour to knot the game up at 24 a piece. The game went into extra time and it was a 96th minute penalty to HARC’s Ryan Hirsch that ended up being the difference between the two squads. They’d face the winner of Austin Blacks D2 and Houston United.

Unlike the first semifinal, this match saw the two teams locked in a close match for the entirety of the 80 minute contest. The game kicked off to a hectic start with Austin racing out an early 3-0 lead before HURT came back to take the lead at 7-3 with only seven minutes played. However, things then cooled for the rest of the half before Austin retook the lead in the 38th minute thanks to a Nathan Belachew try. After the first 40, the Blacks held a slender lead of one. Their lead was then extended out to six at the beginning of the second half, and HURT were looking for answers quickly. They found them through tries to Kevin Howes and Matthew Kaufman. Heading into the final 25, Austin trailed by four. The retook the lead when Vincent Dutton converted his own try; however, jubilation was short lived, as Kauffman shortly after bagged his second. With only six minutes left, Austin were looking at the wrong side of the scoreline. Despite time winding down, the Blacks never panicked and a 79th minute try to David Harrison sealed their spot in the Red River Championship.

The Championship match started out as another tooth and nail affair, as the two teams swapped scored throughout the first half an hour. With time dwindling in the opening stanza, the teams were tied at eight apiece. However, two converted tries in three minutes to close out the first half put Austin in the driver’s seat, up 22-8. HARC wasn’t going to take that lying down and came out firing in the second half, scoring in the opening two minutes. However, the Blacks weren’t going to let their opportunity slip and they answered right back pushing the scoreline out to 29-13. HARC would add one more try before it was all said and done, but Austin would advance through, via a 29-18 scoreline.  

 

Women’s Division II:

The women’s Division II semifinals were not particularly close affairs, with the Austin Valkyries and San Antonio Riveters advancing via 22 and 52 point differentials, respectively.

San Antonio was the first team through after they took down the Dallas Athletic Club Dames, 64-12. The first half was a relatively close affair, with San Antonio only scoring ten points before the whistle was blown. However, a five try performance in the second half from Toni Armstrong made sure the game was put away quickly.

The Valkyries D2 were the second squad to make it into the championship match, although their victory was not as comprehensive as San Antonio’s. The Valkyries prevailed over Little Rock 44-22. The match was never in doubt, as Austin raced out into a 29-0 lead, with only 34 minutes being played. Chelsey Arambula, their fullback, was a big reason for the extensive lead, as she scored two tries in five minutes. Austin didn’t stop there, they continued their enslaught well into the second half. By the 60th minute they had extended the lead out to the 44-0. The last 20 belonged to Little Rock, but the task at hand was too large, and Austin advanced.

In the final, Austin were again too strong for their opponent, beating the San Antonio Riveters, 53-17. It was a complete team effort, with the first five tries of the game coming from five different players. Arambula was once again in the thick of Austin’s attacking plans, adding two more tries to her personal tally, giving her seven for the weekend. To San Antonio’s credit they were able to stop the early leakage and stem the flow of scoring. However, while their defnse tightened up, they were still struggling to score points themselves; after 50 minutes they had only scored 7 points.  Eventually they got their offense in motion, scoring 10 points in the final 20 minutes, but the damage had been done. Austin Valkyries D2 winning the Red River Women’s Division II Championship.

Men’s Division III:

The defending national champions, the Austin Blacks D3, came into the semifinals brimming with confidence and it showed. Their first opponent was the Grand Prairie Mavericks. It was a blow out win for the Blacks’ D3 squad, walking away 57-7 victors. The Blacks lead 24-0 at the half, thanks to two tries from Curtis Chaffin. The second half started in similar fashion, with the Blacks adding 12 more points before the Mavericks got on the board. Three tries in the final 10 minutes helped extend the Blacks’ lead.

The second semifinal saw Houston United come up against Alliance Rugby. Two teams had enjoyed very successful seasons and each believed they were in with a chance of making it into the championship round. Their self belief showed, as the game came down to the wire. However, it was HURT prevailing 27-24.

In the final, it started as a tight affair with Austin escaping to an early 12-0 lead, before HURT pulled back to within two. However, a flurry of three tries in just over 10 minutes, two to winger Edrique Visser, saw the Blacks D3 carry a 17-point lead into the break. At the half the Blacks led 27-10. Things tightened up in the second half with each team only managing a try. Unfortunately, for HURT D3, it wouldn’t be enough to get them back in the match and Austin Blacks D3 advanced to nationals to defend their title.

Men’s Division IV: 
Alliance Rugby D4 were crowned Division IV champions after seeing off a formidable Houston Athletic D4 side in a nerve wracking affair  27-24. Alliance opened the game with a 17-0 run, before HARC saw the tryline shortly before the half. It was 17-5 when the teams entered the sheds. Coming out for the second half, Alliance and HARC swapped scores and after 50 minutes the margin hadn’t changed considerably with HARC only reducing the margin by two. The final ten minutes were frantic, as HARC desperately searched for points and got close too, however, Alliance always seemed to have an answer. HARC fought hard but were unable to ever see the lead in their possession.