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SFGG's Josh Holland. Betty Lumoli photo

Both teams from the East Palo Alto area and San Francisco-Golden Gate (SFGG) were victorious in the second week of NorCal Division I matrix play. The EPA Razorbacks remain undefeated with a 33-12 win over the Sacramento Lions, and the EPA Bulldogs and SFGG pulled even to 1-1 with victories over Santa Rosa and Fresno, respectively. The San Jose Seahawks (1-0) were idle this weekend.

The undefeated Razorbacks (2-0) were impressive, as they built a 19-0 halftime lead and limited the Sacramento Lions to two second-half tries. Reserve prop Sione Tanoa scored both of the Lions tries, and fullback Samuela Waqa made one conversion. The Lions are 1-1 after they defeated SFGG, 19-14, last week.

On the game, Lions coach Epeli Naituivau said, “The Razorbacks are fast. They spoiled everything we wanted to do. They played to destroy us on our game plan. The boys didn’t work to our game plan and that was a big problem.”

“We had the height and size in the forwards but they were just too fast for our guys. Too quick. Our boys wanted to play at their pace, but [the Razorbacks] wanted to make the game fast...They couldn’t keep up with the Razorbacks.”

The Bulldogs (1-1) rebounded from a Razorbacks loss last week to beat Santa Rosa (0-1), 27-17. The Bulldogs shut out their opponent in the first half and, eightman Saia Tautahi Uhila and flanker David Tameilau had tries. Flyhlaf Taniela Vakuata added a conversion to go into the half up, 12-0.

The Bulldogs cushioned their lead immediately after halftime with a try by hooker Pakofe Niua. Santa Rosa finally scored their first points six minutes into the second half with a penalty kick by fullback Scott Gilhooley. The Bulldogs responded with a penalty kick of their own by Vakauta to take a 22-3 lead with 21 minutes left in the half.

The clubs traded tries in the last 21 minutes, but Santa Rosa’s late surge was not enough. Outside center Orisi Rabelo and flyhalf Greg Hildebrand scored late tries for Santa Rosa, but the Bulldogs put the game out of reach after they were awarded a penalty try with less than five minutes left.

“We felt pretty good about our play in both halves,” Santa Rosa Rick Humm said. “EPA scored two at the 20th and 23rd in the first half, both off turnovers. Our boys weren’t able to put their defense together quickly enough.”

In the closest game of the weekend, SFGG (1-1) outlasted Fresno (0-2) to win, 20-17. SFGG works very closely with their PRP brothers and hope practicing against the best club in the nation will translate into victories for the DI club this season.

SFGG got on the board first with a penalty kick by flyhalf Mike Keane and followed with a try by outside center Lucas Watson, who recovered a charged down kick in the try zone. Keane added the conversion to take an early 10-0 lead. Fresno responded to take the lead with back-to-back tries by inside center Lucas Gaarde and a penalty try for hands in the ruck at the try line. SFGG regained the 15-12 lead before the half with a try by scrumhalf Josh Holland.

The second half featured tough defensive play from both sides. SFGG extended the lead to 20-12 when reserve flanker Matt Loftus took an offload from the wing for a try to cap an impressive scoring sequence. Fresno cut the lead to three points after eightman Ezekiel Nazaroff scored a try. Fresno had an opportunity late to retake the lead, but was unable to take advantage.

“SFGG used their opportunities well,” said Fresno coach Frik Fourie. “They kept on the pressure. From my side, we played our game plan. We have a pretty new team with a lot of new guys...The deciding factor was they ability to maintain ball. There was a lot of knock-ons and handling errors on our side and we handed over ball a lot. Unforced errors.”

SFGG coach David Ridley raved about his club’s defensive effort this season stating “I’m delighted with our defense. I brought in a new defensive system and basically no one has gone through it in both games. The only time people are scoring is on unforced errors. So the defense is working fantastic.”