Rocky Gorge Rugby Football Club out of Colombia Maryland mounted a second half comeback to win the Emirates Airline USA Rugby DII National Championship on their first crack at the title. The club had previously made an appearance in the round of 16 last year, but was derailed in their championship effort.
Having topped Santa Rosa in a lightning delayed match on day one of the championships, Rocky Gorge was out to prove a point on day two facing off against a Wisconsin side riding the high of a last second victory in the semis.
The first half of the match looked to be all Wisconsin however. Cody Moran-Guevara dotted down first for Wisconsin just eight minutes into the match. Gareth Donath followed up with another try just nine minutes later, and all of a sudden it was 14-0, and Rocky Gorge had barely had a sniff of the ball.
Bryan Perez got Rocky Gorge on the board following a nice series of phases in the 32nd minute to bring the game within a converted try. Wisconsin replied with a penalty, but MVP Fullback Andrew Kendall answered right back with a try at the halftime whistle to bring the score 17-12 at the break.
Almost as soon as the whistle blew for the start of the second half, Rocky Gorge sped in for another try through Mike Meehan, and just like that Rocky found themselves on top of the heap with a 19-17 lead. Wisconsin would take a brief lead with a penalty kick, but they would not be able to find the try zone again for the rest of the match.
Rocky Gorge completed their comeback with tries from Will Miller and Josh Brown to take the 37-26 victory, and the DII trophy.
Wisconsin Inside Center Rob Llwellyn was complimentary of Rocky Gorge. “We felt like we were doing great in the first half, but they were able to take us out of our pattern of play early in the second half, and we couldn’t recover.”
Rocky Gorge is comprised of mostly former players from Eastern Maryland Universities, including many from DII College Runners Up, Salisbury.
Tries: Moran-Guevara, Donath
Cons: Jobke (2)
Pens: Jobke (4)
Rocky Gorge 37
Tries: Perez, Kendall, Meehan, Miller, Brown
Cons: Kendall (3)
Pens: Kendall (2)
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