Old Puget Sound Beach beat New Orleans 43-25 in Saturday’s DI semifinal at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. Beach never trailed and were usually up multiple scores, but NOLA never went away.
“It wasn’t as smooth as we like, but we're in the semifinal. We’re in the final four of the country so a lot of respect for New Orleans,” said OPSB coach Justin Fitzpatrick. “They really put it to us in certain facets at certain times. We’re pleased we’re going into the final and that’s all that’s important.”
Speedy wing Isameli Daveta opened scoring in the first minute with an impressive try, and Matt Trouville converted. OPSB added to the lead minutes later when Trouville dotted down following an attacking five-meter lineout and maul.
New Orleans’ Chance Doyle missed a shot at goal not long after, but he responded with a successful kick around the 20-minute mark, making the score 14-3.
OPSB took the opportunity to extend the lead when Nic Hawkins broke through NOLA’s defense and offloaded to Mike Palefau, who cruised into the try zone and under the posts, extending the lead to 19-3.
OPSB then mis-stepped by engaging NOLA in a ping pong battle. NOLA winger Adam Ducoing fielded one of the punts, cut past two defenders and dished to Jeff Reuther, who slid in for the try. Doyle’s conversion made it 19-10, which is how the half would end.
The Seattle club opened the second half by mauling in another short-range lineout, and shortly thereafter Hawkins picked from the base of a ruck outside the attacking 22 and bulled into pay dirt easily. Trouville converted, putting OPSB up 31-10
Just as the game appeared to be getting out of reach, NOLA scored when prop Matt Upton took a run in the midfield, dragging multiple tacklers with him. The ball recycled, NOLA went wide and Ducoing cut to the five-meter line and offloaded to the fullback for the score. Doyle missed the conversion, leaving the scoreboard at 31-15 with half an hour to play.
New Orleans scored seconds later when Jeff Reuther stepped his way past his defender and offloaded to his charging lock. The lock attempted to grubber forward, and whether the ball actually touched his foot remains unsure, but Saade Bou-Mikael flyhacked it forward from there. Wing Pat Kennedy jumped on it in the try zone. The conversion was missed – 31-20.
Hawkins all but put Beach on his back to re-extend the lead. He carried the ball three times on the scoring drive, all going forward. Palefau followed that up with a nice run of his own, starting around the 22. He the offloaded to hooker Daniel Trierweiler, who drove over for the try, hurting himself in the process. Trouville hit the conversion, making it 38-20.
“Nic’s been our go-to man all season. He really has,” said OPSB coach Justin Fitzpatrick. “I call him the blunt instrument. He’s just a force of nature out there. He’s been doing that week after week.”
OPSB and NOLA swapped scores to end the game, but the result was already well decided.