National Championship Match Report

2016 National D1 Champions

Photo courtesy of USA Rugby

GLENDALE, CO – The Mystics managed to stick out the full 80 minutes against the Austin Blacks in a back and forth contest that was up for grabs until the final minutes of the game. The final score was 45-33 to the Mystics, but the match was an incredibly close contest until the Mystics scored in the dying minutes to put them out of Austin reach. It was an absolute rollercoaster of a match where both teams had momentum and the lead at various stages. In case you missed it, the full match is currently available online at The Rugby Channel.

The Mystics came out firing in the first few minutes of the game, and they took advantage of the great conditions to spread the ball and attack. The first Mystic try came from Alatasi Tupou, who shrugged off two defenders on a switch and then beat the fullback to the corner. He didn’t make the conversion, but the Mystics were up 5-0 and going strong. The Blacks struck back a few minutes later after a break resulted in a kickable penalty, which they duly slotted to bring the Mystic lead to 5-3. The Mystics then got back into the action a few minutes later after fullback Jared Collinson burst through the line, drew his opposite number and fed Evin O’Driscoll for the second Mystic try. Tupou converted to extend the Mystic lead to 12-3. At this stage, the Blacks started to find their feet and managed to get their hands on the ball after the Mystics bobbled the kickoff. The Blacks showed their attacking flair and hit back with an unconverted try in the corner to pull the score back to 12-8. The Mystics then made another mistake to give the Blacks an attacking five meter scrum. The Blacks took full advantage of the scrum and fed their wing on a loop to score under the posts. One of the Mystics was accidentally tripped by a lead runner, but a television review saw the try stand and the Blacks take the lead for the first time at 15-12. The Blacks extended their lead to 18-12 through a penalty, but the Mystics reciprocated and got the lead back down to three. The Blacks then put in a number of phases before converting the pressure into points through a try out wide after the defense got sucked in. They missed the conversion, but still had an eight point lead at 23-15. As the half wound to a close, both teams kicked a penalty apiece to leave the Blacks up 26-18 at half time.

The Blacks received the second half kickoff and used the possession to put together some phases. Some pressure out wide saw wing Steve Dazzo put in a hit, dislodge the ball and chase the ball all the way through to the tryline. After reviewing the play, play was called back, but the Mystics were awarded a scrum in their own territory. The Mystic pack then stepped up to the plate as the team pulled it in tighter and worked the ball downfield for a hard-earned try from prop Luke Schlotman. Tupou converted to cut the Blacks’ lead down to one. Soon after the restart, Mystic wing Vini Daley burst through a gap and threatened to get the Mystics a second try. He was scragged around the neck from behind, and the penalty for a high tackle was taken quickly by the Mystics. They then conceded a penalty out wide, but the referee conferred with the touch judge and awarded the Blacks flyhalf a yellow card for the tackle. This was a huge turning point for the Mystics, as the Blacks flyhalf had been leading their attack — his vision was responsible for two of the passes that led to tries. The Mystics didn’t have the ball, but they soaked up the pressure as the Blacks shifted pick and go mode to soak up minutes on the clock. The Mystics then forced a penalty for holding on in the tackle to get the ball and back into Blacks territory. They kept going with the tight phases, but some quick hands off a wide ruck saw flyhalf Robbie Malneek feed Evin O’Driscoll for a try in the corner. The Mystics missed the kick, but were back in the lead at 30-26. The Mystics then pushed downfield and a midfield switch saw center Evin O’Driscoll slip through a gap to score his third try, which extended the Mystic lead to 37-26. The Blacks flyhalf returned to the field, and the Blacks fought back to score a converted try to bring them to within four points at 37-33. The Blacks kept up the attack, as they needed a try to regain the lead, but the Mystics then gave themselves breathing room after a Tupou penalty stretched their lead to 40-33 with minutes left to play. As the clock wore down, the Blacks’ attempts grew more frantic, but the Mystics managed to close the door after a break out wide saw Evin O’Driscoll bobble the ball at the back of a ruck before slipping through for his fourth try. The try was referred to the television referee to verify that the dropped ball had gone backwards, but the play stood and the Mystics had an unassailable twelve point lead with seconds left to play. The Mystics kicked the ball into touch after the restart, sealing their position as the D1 National Champions for the first time!

We’ll be adding more posts thanking all of the sponsors, coaches, supporters and members of Mystic Nation who helped the team to claim the 2016 national title. Please stay tuned and GO BLUE!