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Santa Monica defeated OMBAC, 19-5, at the Orange County 7s to earn SoCal’s second spot at Nationals next month. Due to heavy rain and lightning a handful of games into the tournament, officials elected to forgo the rest of the competition and have a one-off game for the right to head to Des Moines. After waiting for over an hour, the lightning let up and the teams were able to play the match.
“It was quite dramatic and we are pretty stoked that we got the win,” Santa Monica scrumhalf Charlie Purdon told Rugby Today.
Although rain surely benefitted the state of California, it provided less than ideal playing conditions. The Dolphins used the weather to their advantage, playing a field possession game, particularly in the second stanza.
“After halftime we sort of took control of the game,” said Purdon. “We played pretty smart, we played in the right areas. We kicked for territory and got a chase and put them under pressure once or twice.”
OMBAC scored first after stripping a man and going down the right sideline to take a 5-0 lead. Unfortunately for OMBAC, it was all the scoring it would do in the game. Santa Monica struck back with two tries in the first half and added the final score of the game midway through the second half to seal the victory.
The Dolphins have had their ups and downs this season but come along way. Like many other clubs, Santa Monica dipped into the college ranks and saw some young guys makes some big impacts this summer. A pair of UCLA Bruins, Zach Bonte and Danny Thomas, as well as a local kid Izzy Lopez, helped bring some youthful energy to the squad.
“We just got some young, hungry guys that you know get to learn and they just come on in leaps and bounds during every tournament,” added Purdon.
Harry Bennett, a native Australian, had a particularly strong day according to Purdon. Combining with the strong play of their young guns, the Dolphins booked another trip to Nationals.
“He was unbelievable, sort of our playmaker,” Purdon said of Bennett.
With the win Santa Monica will head to Iowa and go for a national title. Last year the Dolphins made it to Nationals but failed to make it to the Cup stage and are looking forward to another chance at it this year.
“I think we have come a long way. We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for the tournaments. To get through the qualifiers the way we did just bares testament to the character and the backbone of the side,” Purdon concluded.