Outside of some very unfortunate controversy, Pool D was highly competitive. Each team had its time to shine, and like Pool F, it wasn’t decided until the final whistle blew on the final game of day one.
In the pool’s first match, Oklahoma jumped out to a 10-0 lead as Tennessee gained its bearings. The Volunteers replied with scores from team leaders Sam Anderson and Nick Evans to take a 12-10 lead, with OU flyhalf Zac Givens serving two minutes in the sin bin.
OU scored to climb within two in the second half, but a pair of Volunteer tries sealed the 24-10 victory for Tennessee.
In the other opening round game, San Diego State capitalized on some Stony Brook handling and tackling errors to win 17-7.
The Seawolves more than bounced back in the second round, as wing Michael St. Clair raced in three tries in the first half. Andrew Kozak chipped in a fourth, giving Stony Brook a 26-0 halftime lead over Tennessee, which it would turn into a 36-14 win.
Oklahoma got out to a big lead against San Diego State, winning 17-0 at halftime. However, the Aztecs pulled within five with a pair of tries, one converted. The Sooners’ Bobby Impson then clinched the 22-12 win with a try in the 12th minute.
The third round is where things got weird. With each team entering its final match 1-1. The winners of each third-round game would be have their head-to-head record against one another decide their fate.
Oklahoma scored a pair of converted tries to open its game against Stony Brook, but Peter Molloy put the Seawolves on the board just before halftime. OU led 14-5 at the break. Stony Brook’s St. Clair left the game early.
“He blew the hammy in that second game. He popped it with a little tweak, and then he blew the whole thing out in that game, and that hurt us,” said Stony Brook’s Jerry Mirro. “You’ve got a guy running a 4.38 40 on the wing, you lose him, and that makes a difference. He’s first class, and when he learns the game he’ll be quite good.”
The second half was scoreless, but probably because it ended over three minutes short.
The referee, under pressure from the sideline during an all-important match, erroneously called the game over with just under four minutes of the second half played. She blew the final whistle seconds after the scoreboard buzzer from field one sounded, indicating she may have thought it was the scoreboard on her field.
Stony Brook pled with the ref, but Tennessee was awarded the 14-5 win. Late Friday night, USA Rugby reviewed the tape and saw that the ref had called the game over three minutes early, but said it couldn’t retroactively change a result or force a replay of the game.
The other round-three game between Tennessee and San Diego State was also high intensity. San Deigo State took a 12-0 lead into intermission, but Tennessee’s Mason Howard and Nathan Ring scored two tries a piece in the second half to give the Vols a 26-12 victory, one they were looking for since the pools were drawn up.
“In the CRC two years ago, we met San Diego State. They beat us, and we had a very sour taste in our mouth after that game,” said Tennessee coach Marty Bradley.
“We felt we competed well in that game, and a couple of things went against us that we felt like shouldn’t have, and so we’ve actually ahd this game circled on our schedule ever since the pairings came out.”
Tennessee’s day-opening win over Oklahoma proved to be the tiebreaker that sent the Vols into the Cup Quarterfinal round.