The Santa Fe Rugby Club regained their balance to capture third place in the 48th annual High Desert Classic tournament in Albuquerque Saturday. Los Santos looked sluggish in a 24-5 opening-round loss to the Steelers of Provo, Utah, but came from behind to beat El Paso Scorpions in their second match 24-19. Santa Fe then scored 17 unanswered second-half points to beat Albuquerque’s Brujos 27-10 in the consolation match. Hosts Albuquerque Aardvarks took out the Steelers 24-7 in the championship game.
A select team from Tempe won the women’s division with a convincing 38-5 victory over Albuquerque’s Atomic Sisters. Tempe utilized a strong running and kicking game in the win.
In the third-place match, Santa Fe went into halftime knotted 10-all with the Brujos before catching fire to win going away. Center Earl Smith and wing Frank Marchi touched down first-half tries and Santa Fe ratcheted up the defensive pressure to shut down the Brujos in the second half. Speedy wing Mateo Cardiel added two tries to Santa Fe’s ledger and Marchi closed out the scoring with a weaving 70-meter run.
Los Santos now await the Southwest Rugby Union’s 2021-2022 Covid-interrupted schedule. Training sessions continue at Santa Fe’s Municipal Recreation Complex.