Shockers all around in the Boys Elite bracket at the NAI 7s as two of the favorites crashed out in the quarterfinals.
The Canadian Misfits looked like they might win the whole thing after two convincing pool wins, and led by some solid work from Kal Sager they defeated USA South and crushed Gorilla Rugby 38-0.
But they were dumped out in the quarterfinals by Rebel Rugby Academy 29-10.
The big surprise was Rock Rugby. With Isaiah Saldana having a strong day and the team itself playing excellent defense, Rock upset Atlantis 10-5, and then beat Rebel Rugby Academy 17-10 on the final play of the game.
Atlantis just edged Rebel 10-7, scoring on the final play of the game.
Eagle Impact Rugby Academy blasted by Arizona and Utah Lions Academy. EIRA was led by Miles McCormick, who is just a massive human being and he brings skills, as well. With the Law twins Darius and Donovan from Charlotte, and Dominic Tianga, they had tons of pace, and with Brett Dogiewicz and Ethan Van Tonder, playmaking ability to spare.
The Misfits won, and Gorilla just edged South.
So then the playoffs, but the system set forth by the tournament organizers didn’t sit well with the teams. Mainly, #8 played #9 for the right to play the top team on Saturday. But the top team wasn’t listed as EIRA, even though at 2-0 and with the best points difference, EIRA clearly was #1.
Much discussion and the brackets were changed.
Here’s how the quarterfinals matched up:
Arizona vs USA South, with the winner playing EIRA on Saturday in one quarterfinal.
Atlantis vs Utah Academy
Misfits vs Rebels
Rock vs Gorilla
The South was fired up and won easily over Arizona.
Rock Rugby, which had thought it was getting the rest of the day off, had to get back together and rock up to play in-Texas rivals Gorilla. After falling behind, Rock inched closer, and the pulled away in the second half to win 24-5.
The Misfits, as mentioned, were upset by Rebel Rugby. Tellingly, on a very hot day at altitude, the team from (mostly) Colorado finished stronger than the team from Ontario.
Atlantis was upset by Utah Academy. Once again, the team used to the conditions won out. Utah was stronger at the point of contact, and defended well in the first half.
“They did enough,” said coach and former USA star Vaha Esikia. “Credit to them, the kids played hard. We made it hard on ourselves and it was exhausting to watch as a coach.”
Held a 14-7 lead at halftime, then led 19-14 only to fall behind 21-19. But with no time they left constructed one more try to win it 26-21 and move on to the semis.
So Atlantis is out of Cup Contention, and so is the Misfits team. EIRA has pretty much sewn up the NAHS series, but will want to finish strong against the South and on to the final two games. EIRA will play three games on Saturday, with everyone else playing two, so that might be an issue.
But it is telling that the teams used to the heat or the altitude or both finished fresher.
So Saturday’s semis are:
South vs EIRA
Utah Lions vs the winner of USA South and EIRA
Rebels vs Rock Rugby
In the consolation bracket, it’s ...
Misfits vs the winner of Gorilla and Arizona
Atlantis vs the loser of EIRA vs USA South