Kansas City, Mo. - The Kansas city Blues beat the Austin Huns 23-18 Saturday at Swope Park to advance to the National Round of 16 at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
The Blues fell behind 7-0 when the Huns scored a converted try in the opening minutes. The Blues went back on attack shortly after the kickoff, and fullback Jordan Neville slotted a penalty kick to put them on the board.
The Austin forwards controlled the tackle area early with strong rucking, and the Blues were called for diving over, allowing the Huns to extend their lead back to 10-3.
Neville made the first big break for the Blues, streaking up the sideline deep into Austin territory. As he was being caught, he kicked the ball to keep it alive, and the Austin defender tackled Neville late, drawing a penalty.
The Blues wound up with a scrum about 15 yards from the try line, and Neville took a clever line tight off of flyhalf Kelly Mercer for the Blues' first touch down, tying the game at 10-10 after Neville's conversion kick. the Huns and Blues swapped penalty kicks before halftime and were knotted at 13-13 at intermission.
The Blues owned possession and territory in the second half, but tough goal line defense from the Huns turned them over twice. Once the Blues lost the ball forward in a tackle, and the second time wing Kevin Schwartze ended a promising attack by passing to the Huns.
The Blues took their first lead in the 66th minute when they showed some patience near pay dirt and prop Alain Miriallakis bursted through the Austin defense for a short-range try. Neville hit the conversion to put Kansas City up 20-13.
Scrumhalf Casey Cummings nearly scored shortly after, but he was brought down by the collar from behind, drawing a penalty directly in front of the posts. Neville nailed the kick, extending the lead to 23-13.
With about 10 minutes left on the clock, Austin's left wing made a probing run but was slowed down shy of the goal line and laid a kick into the try zone. Blues wing Kenny Scott scooped up the ball, but was shoved out of bounds in the try zone, giving Austin a five-meter scrum.
Reserve lock David Brown bowled over for a try after series of rucks following the set piece, but the conversion was missed, leaving Austin down 23-18 with less than 10 minutes to go.
The Huns put together a promising comeback drive, utilizing slow ball from the ruck to inch down the field. They were helped tremendously by a rash of Blues penalties, as Kansas City was desperate to get possession and end the game.
The Huns' hopes were dashed when they grubbered near the Kansas City 22 at full time. The Blues gathered the ball and kept possession until the final whistle.
Awaiting the Blues in Chula Vista will be the East Palo Alto Bulldogs, who defeated Las Vegas Saturday.