Dartmouth College put a stranglehold on the USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship final and didn't let go, slicing up an outstanding Army outfit to the tune of 32-10 to win the title Sunday at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
Dartmouth received the kickoff and were brilliant in their patience. Nick Downer burst through from his own 22 for a half-break that put Big Green on the front foot and they simply worked their way down the field, making small inroads, consolidating on the ruck, and working again.
A push ahead by the forwards opened a gap for Chris Downer, and the captain’s twin brother cantered away happily to score. The entire sequence took four minutes.
Down 5-0, Army were glad to get the ball back, and did almost the same thing. They were a little quicker about it, with Marshall Moten making a key run before Latu Vaha’i dipsy-doodled past the defense and then fed Will Holder for the try in the corner and a 5-5 scoreline.
Dave Geib, who had hardly put a foot wrong all weekend, then did so as his restart failed to go ten meters. Dartmouth got a free kick at midfield and worked a double-downer, Nick left and Chris right. It didn’t quite work out, but Dartmouth kept up the pressure and big Nate Brakeley powered over for the try and a 12-5 lead after Nick Downer’s conversion.
Dartmouth then put the hammer down, racing in to claim the ball on the restart, winning the next ruck and, not messing about, seeing Paul Jarvis take the first pass and threading his way over. Downer’s conversion hit the post, but with a minute to go Dartmouth led Army 17-5.
And it seemed the field had to be tilted as Dartmouth defended well and turned the ball over in the Army ended again. They worked their way to the line, not wasting effort or opportunities, and then from a penalty Nick Downer tapped and fed Will Lehmann, who, despite considerable attention from the Army defense, went over the line. 22-5.
Army finally broke out of the Dartmouth trap. Wing Ben Leatigaga broke around the left side, broke one tackle and then, with the defense closing in, spun a nifty one-handed pass to Dave Geib racing on in support. Geib’s try made it 22-10.
And there was plenty of time for an Army comeback, with the ten-minute halves in the final. In the end, Dartmouth struck once more, with the Downer brothers connecting beautifully. Nick Downer sliced through on the outside, drew the last defender and fed his brother Chris for the try in the corner. 27-10 with just under five minutes to go.
And right from there Dartmouth produced something special. Head Coach Alex Magleby put in two subs, the speedy Muhammed Abdul-Shakoor and the equally speedy TJ Cameron. Cameron started the movement and quick hands allowed Abdul-Shakoor to end it in delightful fashion, as he tiptoed down the sideline, raced into the corner, and then somersaulted onto his back before touching down. Perhaps a little show-boaty, but the crowd loved it. 32-10.
The game was over then. There was time to go, but Dartmouth had controlled the match from beginning to end. Their uncanny ability to take possession in Army’s half just stymied the Black Knights, and made Big Green golden.
USA 7s CRC Men’s Final
Tries: C. Downer 2, Brakeley, Jarvis, Lehmann, Abdul-Shakoor
Convs: N. Downer
Tries: Holder, Geib