MARIETTA, Ga. – Life University will play in its fourth consecutive USA Rugby D1A National Championship Final after defeating Lindenwood, 41-7
Early stages of the Semifinal fixture had the makings of a much closer contest. Ten minutes into the game a sloppy Lindenwood pass force an untimely kick that Life quickly ran back for its opening try.
Running Eagle wing Harley Wheeler, who played a part in the first try, made an interception and Harley Davidson was able to scoop up his loose pass for a try. Cody Melphy’s second conversion made the score 14-0.
Canterbury’s No. 1-ranked team extended its lead to 21-0 when scrum half Marcus Walsh slipped through traffic to score beneath the posts.
Lindenwood’s forwards didn’t have trouble making meters all afternoon, and grinded out a try in the 33rd minute to bring the score to 21-7. The Lions’ pack appeared to be on its way to making it a one-score match, but a fumbled ball at the endline was sent back into Lindenwood’s end off Walsh’ boot where Life would be awarded a penalty which Melphy converted to close the half, 24-7.
Momentum was riding with the home team coming out of the second half gates, and Melphy was the recipient of two early second half tries thanks to an intelligent and opportunistic Running Eagles defense. The third-ranked Lions were able to string positive phases together, but a tireless Life team sniffed-out every loose ball, and were quick to reverse the field soon after.
Melphy, a sophomore center who wore the No. 10 jersey for the first time, ended the game with a penalty to put the game away, 41-7
A year after playing for a National Championship just down the road at the Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University, Life will travel to California where it will try to win its first D1A title since 2013 at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif. as part of the USA Rugby College 15s National Championships.
The Running Eagles opponent in the 2016 D1A Final will be the winner of today’s Semifinal between Saint Mary’s and Utah.