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The Lions Academy fought off two huge comeback efforts in the semifinals and finals of the New York 7s to take home the Men's Premier Cup championship.
A mixed bag of players from around the around Ontario area, the Lions Academy is a young group that proved to be too much for the competition.
They moved comfortably through their pool, going 3-0 with a 31-12 win over a strong Pokemoto side, a 34-5 victory against Rouge Samurai, then a 24-12 win against Liberty 9410.
Great hit. Even better try 17-7 at half of the men’s premier division cup championship pic.twitter.com/xuQ1t1Ao2r— New York Rugby 7s (@newyork7s) November 30, 2019
That set them up for a semifinal clash with Beltway Elite, who went 2-1 in pool play after defeating Rugby Quebec 15-12 and the Pacific Island Warriors 38-14, and losing 15-12 to Roots Rugby.
In the semis, it was Pokemoto against Roots, and Beltway Elite against the Lions.
Roots took care of Pokemoto fairly comfortably, winning 24-12. The other semifinal, however, was extremely close.
Next up ROOTS Men’s v the warriors in men’s premier division. 7-0 ROOTS pic.twitter.com/nU4JHq0sUL— New York Rugby 7s (@newyork7s) November 30, 2019
After quickly falling behind 5-0, the Lions reeled off 22 unanswered points to claim a 17 point lead with under two minutes remaining.
But all of a sudden, Beltway cranked up the intensity and scored two tries back-to-back to pull within five points with 30 seconds remaining.
The ensuing kickoff was a great one, but it went unclaimed and bounced into touch for a Lions lineout. They completed the throw-in and ran through a couple of phases, but Beltway were able to hold them up in a maul and turn the ball over.
However, time was up on the ref's watch and so the match was ended. An unfortunate circumstance for Beltway but it was a great performance from the Lions Academy.
In the final, the Lions once again went down early, but they rallied to score four straight tries to work up to a 24-7 lead with four minutes to go.
Then, in the blink of an eye, Roots scored two quick tries and all of a sudden it was 24-21 with two minutes to play.
I’m good. Don’t need nobody help. 22-14 with 5 to play pic.twitter.com/9RXPQjP6sz— New York Rugby 7s (@newyork7s) November 30, 2019
But the Lions again showed their resilience and notched a score of their own to halt the momentum.
Lions answer 30-21#roarrrrrr! pic.twitter.com/PyktjeM3q2— New York Rugby 7s (@newyork7s) November 30, 2019
They tacked one more on for good measure, and finished off the day undefeated to become the 2019 New York 7s Premier champions.