Navy got up early on Arizona during the teams’ quarterfinal, but once the Wildcats settled down at the breakdown and shored up their penalty count, the tries started to roll in. Arizona walked away with a 26-5 victory and advances to the USA 7s Rugby Collegiate Championship semifinals against Life University.
Navy started a little shaky, letting passes hit the turf and misplaying kickoffs that trickled into touch. Managing kickoff receipts eventually became the Midshipmen’s undoing, but not before taking a 5-0 lead over Arizona.
Arizona misfired on a lineout in their end, and the ball worked out to the speedy Ron Helms. Cody Naber did an excellent job of corralling the ballcarrier, but a penalty at the tackle kept Navy’s attack alive. The Wildcats lost another 10 meters when penalized for talking back to the ref, bringing Navy to Arizona’s two-meter line. Seamus Siefring tapped through the mark and muscled his way over the line for the 5-0 lead.
“We started off slow, we had a few penalties, and that slowed us a while,” said Arizona playmaker Jack Arnold. “We had a lot of issues taking care of the rucks, diving over, coming in from the side. So that hurt us early, but we settled down and took it to the house.”
Arizona’s try occurred late in the half and originated from a lineout in Navy’s end. After the outlet pass, the ball went back weak to lineout players, where Arizona worked quick tight passes to slip pass startled Navy defenders. The Wildcats set up a 2-on-1 and had the final pass happened, then it would have been an easy try. But the ballcarrier took it into contact and loss possession.
Navy quickly spun the ball the opposite way, working back to their 40 meter with a promising attack, but an over-aggressive offload to a too-deep supporter saw the ball change possession a few times. The ball finally dribbled into space and Brett Thompson scooped it up for the try, which Peter Tiberio converted, 7-5 into the break.
The restarts were the star of the second half. Arizona was able to regain their perfectly placed, 10-meter dropkicks and starve Navy of any attacking opportunities. Cody Naber was the recipient of one such stolen kickoff and cut his way to the tryline before being held up. Arizona took the subsequent scrum and Trent Fisher dove over.
Craig Samoy ran in a brace of tries, one of which originated from a stolen kickoff. Both scores were similar in that he was able to stall defenders from 10 meters out and drive his shoulders between the Navy players for the dive-over. Tiberio tacked on another two conversions for the 26-5 win.
“We’ve had the experience coming off last year, winning the three games in pool play and losing the first game on the second day,” Arnold said. “This time we just kept our heads and played a team game.”
Arizona will play Life, which defeated Delaware 12-5 in their quarterfinal, in the final four at 2:07.