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MARINES WIN GOLD AT INAUGURAL 7'S ARMED FORCES RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP,
Ken Polk, Armed Forces Sports

The Marines advanced to the championship match with help from the Army who came back from a 19-0 halftime deficit to tie Navy 24-24 in the final match of pool play. The Army-Navy tie gave the Marine Corps and Navy teams identical 2-1-1 records at the conclusion of pool play. With an earlier 21-17 Marine Corps victory over the Navy during pool play, the Devil Dogs had their ticket to the championship (based on the head-to-head tie breaker).

It took Air Force only 43 seconds to draw first blood in the championship match. SrA Marcus Satavu (Tyndall AFB) broke free and sprinted 50 yard for the first try. 2dLt Reed Fleming (U.S. Air Force Academy) dropped-kicked the conversion and gave the Air Force a 7-0 lead. The Marines evened the score on a short try by 1stLt Chuck Smith (NAS Whiting Field) and a conversion by 2ndLt Sean Rohr (NAS Corpus Christi) at the 4:06 mark. 

It didn’t take Air Force long to regain the lead as Capt John Lockard (Vance AFB) went the distance on the ensuing kickoff.  Fleming’s conversion put the Air Force ahead 14-7 at the 5:28 mark.  A minute later, the Marines tied it up again when 1stLt Elliot Joses (NAS Corpus Christi) scored on a 45 yard try followed by Rohr’s conversion.  Poor tackling on the part of the Marines enabled Lockard to score again on a 60 yard try. The missed conversion gave Air Force a 19-14 lead with 8:49 on the clock.

MARINES WIN GOLD AT INAUGURAL 7S RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

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The Marines were not about to go away as Rohr scored a try at the 9:57 mark. The failed conversion tied the score again (19-19) at the half.

Air Force wasted no time as Capt Jeff Branham (Los Angeles AFB) scored the first try of the second half followed by Fleming’s conversion. The Boys in Blue had a 26-16 advantage at the 12:04 mark.

One again there was no stopping the Marines. SSgt Mark Terrell (Camp Pendleton, CA) scored a try and Rohr converted to tie the score 26-26 with 14:43 showing on the clock. The big break for the Marines came when Joses scored a 43 yard try off of an interception as Mr. Reliable Rohr booted the conversion forcing the Marines to gain the lead at 33-26. With 17:36 showing on the clock, Satavu’s try in the closing seconds put the Air Force within two, but the failed conversion gave the Marines a reason to celebrate their first ever Armed Forces Rugby gold medal, thus ending the Air Forces’ 8-year run as rugby champions. Final score Marine Corps 33 - Air Force 31