D1A Final Promises To Be Tight

D1A Final Promises To Be Tight

Saint Mary's scrumhalf Holden Yungert helps preview the D1A College Rugby final between Saint Mary's and Life University.

May 5, 2017 by Alex Goff
D1A Final Promises To Be Tight
Life and Saint Mary's know each other pretty well.

After all, they've met in the D1A final four times already ahead of Saturday's championship match in Moraga, CA.

They know they're close. Three of the four finals between the two were decided by less than a converted try, and the fourth was within a try until the final minutes.

For Life, it's a case of finally getting out of its world and showing the West Coast how its done in Georgia. The Running Eagles didn't really play outside their conference until last week's semifinal against BYU. That they were able to get by the Cougars is a testament to how the coaching staff and the players stayed focused on their own performance and their own standards.

See more on how Life got here.

The same could be said of Saint Mary's -- not the bit about playing outside their conference but certainly about staying focused. Right in the middle of all of that is scrumhalf Holden Yungert, and he spoke with FloRugby about it.

"We set a standard five years ago of making it to the national championship, and it's one of the standard we've really tried to uphold," Yungert said. "They don't change much. They're still one of the best teams in college rugby -- hard hitters, good skills -- I'm expecting another hard-fought championship."

This is possibly a slightly better Saint Mary's team than even last year. Yungert said it's a lot to do with the experienced players holding up the standard, "and the younger guys have the culture just continuing."

The Gaels have been fortunate that they have not had a lot of injuries.

"Our top 25 or so guys have been mostly injury-free; not much more you could ask for," said the scrumhalf.

Saint Mary's will want to push the tempo against Life this weekend. The Gaels will want to avoid the penalties and be both patient and daring when it's called for in the title game. Life, for its part, will want to win the physical battle, force Saint Mary's into mistakes, and play that aggressive defense that frustrates teams used to scoring points.

"We strive to play at a fast tempo," Yungert said. "Just like the pros, we're looking for two-second ball. If I can help them get the ball out quickly, and if we can clean up the breakdowns and have the organization off that, then we're can score.

"We know we won't be able to score points at will against Life. So our goal has to be build phases, keep the penalty count low, and if they commit penalties, Dylan [Audsley] can kick -- he's been great with the foot this year. But it's more about playing some patient, hard-nosed defense to keep them off the board."

Saint Mary's kicks off against Life at 4 PM Pacific Time (7 PM ET) on Saturday at Saint Mary's Stadium. The game will be live on CBS Sports Network.