MARIETTA, Ga — The No.1 ranked BYU Rugby club held on to beat No. 2 Life University in the DI-A semifinals 26-20 to advance to the Cougars seventh straight national championship game.
The Cougars will face Arkansas State on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
In a very physical and tactical match BYU took an early lead and held on late to beat a strong Life team on their field.
After being down 26-5 the Running Eagles clawed their way back into the game on back of two tries by All American No. 8 Cameron Dolan and flanker Andrew McNeil.
With an additional penalty goal by fullback Joe Cowley Life was on the verge of coming back in the final quarter of the game.
But BYU, who played the majority of the game in their own half, would regain possession and hold on to the ball to run out the clock and win the game following the clearing kick from center Paul Lasike.
“We had to earn this one,” BYU captain Ryan Roundy. “Life is a very good team. And there’s not a lot of teams, if any who could come in here and beat them. I’m really proud of our guys for their guts and determination.”
The Cougars started the game fast from an early try from prop Ray Forrester in the 4th minute. A tough angled conversion by scrumhalf Shaun Davies had BYU leading 7-0 in Marietta.
Life came back quickly with a chip kick that bounced back into the arms of Cowley who then passed to a supporting scrum half Cornelius Dirksen who scored Life’s opening try in the 10th minute. BYU would still lead 7-5 after the Life try was unconverted.
But as Life controlled more field position and possession the BYU defense was committed and repelled the Life attack on more than one occasion.
Eventually the BYU defensive patience led to three tries from the Cougars that would prove the difference in the game.
The first came from fly half Dylan Lubbe who intercepted a Life pass to sprint the remaining 60 meters for the try. And the remaining two were from center Paul Lasike manufacturing a duo of tries late in the first half.
“Those last two tries were big obviously,” said BYU head coach David Smyth. “Not only did we hold on because of those tries, but both came on the back of some tough defense which was the name of the game.”
BYU 1st XV vs. Life
- Mikey Su’a
- Ishmael Tilialo
- Ray Forrester (Joey Mount @ 30′)
- TJ Allred
- Kyle Sumsion
- Kumi Tua’one (Chad Harker @ 55′ front row sub)
- Hynie Leaaetoa
- Ryan Roundy ©
- Shaun Davies
- Dylan Lubbe
- Malosi Te’o
- Seki Kofe
- Paul Lasike (Chris Wernli @ 50′ blood sub)
- Will Taylor
- Tua Laei
Tries: Forrester 4′; Lubbe 13′; Lasike 37′, 40′
Conversions: Davies 3/4 (4′, 13′, 37′)
Penalties: Davies 0/1 (78′)
Tries: Dirksen 10′; Dolan 43′; McNeil 56′
Conversions: Cowley 1/3 (56′)
Penalties: Cowley 1/3 (60′)