ASPEN AND LIFE COLLEGE INTO SUPER LEAGUE'S GRAND FINALE
May 29, 2000
The Gentlemen of Aspen and Life College of Atlanta will face off in the Rugby Super League Super Match IV following weekend playoff action.
In the first semi-final, Life hosted OMBAC and the home team scored a hard fought 28-19 victory. Despite the scoreline suggesting otherwise, the match hung in the balance well into the second half.
OMBAC got on the board first by scoring a try in the 12th minute of the game to take an early 7-0 lead, but Life hit back with two tries of their own to Arnold Manier and evergreen Dan Kennedy to go to the major break with a 17-10 lead.
Both teams traded penalty goals in the second half and in the 78th minute with the game poised to go either way, the Atlanta side put the result beyond doubt with the try of the match. Life's South African-born center Nkuleleko Skweyiya scored a brilliant individual try after getting the ball and sweeping to the outside where he was able to beat his man and dot down in the corner to put his team into the Super League final.
Life coach Mel Smith says the victory adds to what has been a pretty good season, "We feel very good about getting through to the final. We are the underdogs and that's okay. At this stage of the season we're just grateful to keep on playing."
While it was the end of OMBAC's 2000 Super League campaign, the San Diegans will now be concentrating their efforts on next weekend's Final Four of the National Clubs Championship.
In the second semi-final, the Kansas City Blues traveled to Colorado to take on the red hot Gentlemen of Aspen for the right to meet Life in the Super League final. In a fast paced match under sunny skies at Wagner Park in Aspen the Gents prevailed 38-25.
Both teams turned on champagne football that resulted in some spectacular coast-to-coast tries, but it was the homeside that triumphed through six 5-pointers on the day. Aspen's forwards laid the platform for the victory with disciplined ball control up front.
Former Eagle flyhalf Mark Williams threw a scare into the Aspen camp when he took a knock to the head in a hard, but legal tackle about 10 minutes from the end. The Gents' points scoring pivot was carted off to hospital where he was treated for concussion and later released.
For Kansas City it was the end to an impressive 2000 season in which they finished second in the East. The Blues were the only team to beat Life in the Eastern Conference.
Life's other loss this season was against Aspen in the Sweet 16 of the National Championships and an Aspen official commented that Life gave the Gents their best game all year, so it sets up what should be a cracker of a
Aspen's Williams says any talk about favoritism for the final is out the window, "I think both teams will go in even. They'll have a week's rest in between while we have to play in next week's Final Four, so things will balance themselves out and there won't be any real favorite.
"They're the best in the East, we're the best in the West and whoever takes their best game into the match will win."
So the two top teams in Super League will meet in the culmination of America's premier rugby competition in San Diego on June 10.