Yankees beat Texans in Men's DIII National Championship decider

"It's a great feeling, but it's not on me; it's on [my teammates]." Matthew Leonard, Fairfield Yankees fly half and Most Valuable Player

GLENDALE, Colo. - Fairfield Yankees completed their trip from Connecticut with a USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club Men's Division III National Championship Sunday in a 41-33 defeat of Euless Texans.

The DIII matchup kicked off the second day of the Championship weekend at Infinity Park following Saturday's triple-header. The Texans conceded 14 points in 20 minutes spent with a man in the sin bin, and the Yankees had built up enough of a lead in the first half to withstand the Euless barrage in the second.

Displaying signs of energy and confidence, Euless opened the match with a knock on the restart, and conceded a penalty after winning a turnover for Fairfield center Karl Rempe to put three points on the scoreboard.

Fairfield held the ball well through the first half, and used a seventh-minute lineout win to get Most Valuable Player Matthew Leonard into space for the match's opening try, 10-0. Euless kept the fly half from scoring a second time two minutes later when Leonard's chip-and-chase effort was secured in-goal by the Texans.

Samisoni Unga broke through the gain line and multiple tacklers following the denied try, and found Brendan Pahulu along the touch line. The Euless wing cut inside and dotted the ball down in the try zone for a 10-5 Fairfield lead.

The Texans had their first player sent to the bin for keeping Leonard from a second try in the 15th minute, with the fly half diving for his grubber behind the posts. The penalty try was awarded and Rempe kicked the extras for a 17-5 lead.

Euless wing Paula Olie had a bruising run around midfield in the 20th minute, but made a poor decision to touch the ball when his teammate kicked for touch and a lineout in the attacking half. The Yankees capitalized immediately from their own set piece, with Leonard sending a skip pass to Rempe. The center had the gas and moves to beat three defenders to the try line from nearly 80 meters to extend the lead to 24-5.

Fairfield took the three points on offer from a penalty in the scrum five minutes from the break, and Euless finally held onto the ball long enough to score a second try before the end of the half for a 27-12 score line.

The Texans had rhythm about their game towards the end of the first frame, but had another man sent to the bin two minutes into the second half. James Perkins scored in the corner two minutes later following a Fairfield scrum, otherwise Euless enjoyed plenty of possession during the disadvantage, knocking on meters from the line at the end of the sinning.

With the full complement on the pitch and a 34-12 deficit, Euless went to work getting itself back in the game. A 59th-minute try brought the score to 34-19, but a 63rd-minute effort was ended with another knock. Rempe broke through the line at the 10 in the 66th minute, and weaved through the backfield and several Eluess backs to score his team's final try, 41-19.

Sensing its chances at a National Championship slipping away, Euless piled on the pressure in the final 15 minutes of the match, scoring two tries to bring the final score to 41-33.

"Euless has been the best competition we've seen all year by far," Leonard said following the National Championship match. "They were strong boys that could break tackles. It's just a credit to our guys that we stuck in it until the end.

"It's a great feeling, but it's not on me; it's on [my teammates]. It's the greatest group of guys in the country. I couldn't do what I do without the guys around me. Fifteen as one, 23 as one, as well as every single person at home."

Euless Texans | Men's DIII National Championship
1. James Cabreros Jr.
2. Sam Tenifa
3. Sione Monetau
4. Charles Taufa
5. Lee Foliaki
6. Eric Fieilo
7. Ila Maile
8. Aulola Tonga
9. Austin Becker
10. Melvin Pauni
11. Auauna Leota
12. Aisea Maafu
13. Stanley Kava
14. Brendan Pahulu
15. Bryan Ptomey
16. Paula Olie
17. Pala Hafoka
18. Esek Mahe
19. Etoni Tonga
20. Vehikite Taulaki
21. Mavau Ahovelo
22. Samisoni Unga
23. Kyle Unga

Fairfield Yankees | Men's DIII National Championship
1. Michael Pappa
2. Dylan Thomas
3. Douglas Fraser Jr.
4. Michael Vlaci
5. Myles McQuone
6. Richard Park
7. Joseph Bonano
8. Benjamin Philpott
9. Daniel Sell
10. Matthew Leonard
11. Michael Dawson
12. Jack Corcoran
13. Karl Rempe
14. James Perkins
15. Michael Jacob
16. Meli Rokocaba
17. Christian Arciuolo
18. Bill Campbell
19. Matthew Parry
27. Hunter Boesch
21. Taylor Judd
22. Rich Gasper
32. Sean May