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With four divisions in action, this past Saturday was very busy in Division I Club Rugby. San Francisco Golden Gate Gold, the EPA Razorbacks, Sacramento Lions, Santa Monica Dolphins, San Diego Old Aztecs, OMBAC, Eastside Tsunami, Portland Pigs, Snake River, and Austin Blacks picked up wins over the weekend.
In the Pacific North division, San Francisco Golden Gate Gold remained undefeated, the EPA Razorbacks took down Santa Rosa, and the Sacramento Lions beat SFGG Green.
San Francisco Gold stretched its unbeaten streak to five games with a 29-5 victory over a strong Olympic Club. No. 10 Volney Rouse got the scoring started for SFGG with a penalty kick just a few minutes in. At 17’, scrumhalf Colby Stevens scored the game’s first try and the Rouse conversion put the home team up 10-0. At 32’, flanker Opeti Okusi’s try and Rouse’s second conversion made the halftime score 17-0.
“I think the key to victory was our pace out wide,” said San Francisco coach Neil Foote. “We hit the space that was available and hit it with pace. Olympic was a good side; they put us under a lot of pressure defensively. But our defense was pretty good.”
Second half tries at 50’ and 72’ by fullback Eakalafi Okusi and reserve Akuila Uaisele, as well as two more Rouse conversions, put SFGG comfortably ahead 29-0. Olympic scored at the whistle for the game’s final margin, 29-5.
Foote tipped his cap to inside center Lemoto Filikitonga, who led the way on offense and defense. “He’s always a threat with his offloads, and defensively he was probably our best defender.”
Sacramento used a potent kicking attack to run out to a 69-30 victory over SFGG’s green side. For SFGG, captain Marty Cunnie a strong day by the forwards went to waste in the loss.
“Our forward pack played really strong, but [Sacramento] put a lot of pressure on our deep three,” explained Cunnie. “It kept us on our heels a lot. Lots of quick turnover tries from them, lots of rookie mistakes for us.”
A close match in Santa Rosa was blown open in the second as EPA ran out to 40-18 win. Down just a point at halftime at 14-13, Santa Rosa said goodbye to its captain and vice-captain, Wilsoni Tamabeika and Waisea Kadawa, due to injury. EPA took advantage to the tune of 21 points in the last 20 minutes to seal the win.
In Southern California, first-place Santa Monica defeated Tempe, San Diego took down Pasadena, and OMBAC stomped Los Angeles.
Santa Monica’s backs scored early and often to a 52-24 victory. Wing Joseph Krassentein got things started with a try seven minutes in. Tempe answered with a penalty at 13’, but Santa Monica scored again to go up 12-3. Nine minutes later, flanker Phil Lydeard crossed the goal line and Krassenstein notched his second score at 36’. Tempe wing Dezmond Fowler found the try zone at 39’ and the conversion from Alexander Taefu closed the halftime deficit to 26-10.
Tries by the Dolphins’ Allen Corruth and Martial Chaput scored at 46’ and 51’ to put the game out of reach. Corruth scored two more times for the hat trick, while Tempe scored late to make the game’s final score 52-24.
After a relatively slow start, OMBAC hit the gas at the ten-minute mark and did not look back in a 90-0 rout of Los Angeles.
“Overall our defense was impressive,” said OMBAC coach Tai Tuisamoa. “That’s one of our keys moving onto the rest of our season, to be a better defensive team. So I thought we put out a good display of defense, and we were able to score some tries off of it. When we’re able to put together five-plus phases, we’re a pretty good outfit.”
Wing Tim Stanfill led the pack with five tries and Ian Cassidy, Nicholas Zajda. Stevie Johnson III (3), Te’o Faafetai (2), Zach Pangelinan, Josh Bart, and Makai Clearwater each scored in the blowout. Stanfill added three conversions and Kalei Konrad racked up seven conversions.
In his last match for OMBAC before heading to Australia to play with Randwick, fullback Zach Pangelinan earned Man of the Match with a try and strong leadership from the fullback position.
The San Diego Old Aztecs hit the road and came up with a big 34-14 victory over Pasadena.
Leading the way for the Aztecs were try scorers Jon Prickett, who played at 13, lock Lucas Edwards, hooker Anthony Ellis, lock Leon Hayward and wing James Niblock. Captain Jaco Breytenbach hit three conversions and a penalty kick in the win.
Considering the long break between matches, Breytenbach was pleased with his team’s performance, for the most part. “I was happy with our ball retention and structure. We played good tactical rugby, but we need to improve on our ability to strike when we have chances.”
After the impressive win, San Diego will face a stiff test this week when OMBAC comes to town.
In the Pacific Northwest, Saturday's play was highlighted by two one-point wins. First place ORSU fell to Eastside Tsunami, 24-23, the Portland Pigs took down the Valley Kangaroos, 36-18, and the Bend Roughriders came up just short on the road to Snake River, 22-23.
“It was a tough match to lose,” said Bend coach Craig Branstad. “The boys played well; they controlled their energy and took advantage when they created opportunities.
In the end, Snake River’s Eric Zwiefelhofer hit a penalty in the 75th minute to win the game, 23-22. Chris Higgins and Sean Prussia scored for the victors and Zwiefelhofer totaled 13 points with three PKs and two conversions. Scoring tries for Bend in the loss were Trevor Pratter, Ryan Brown, and Dakota Parker, while Austin Ally stood out with a Man of the Match performance.
In Portland, Ore., the hometown Pigs took down the Valley Kangaroos, 36-18. Inside center Mikey Hallam got the scoring started five minutes in with a penalty kick and 3-0 lead. Flyhalf and Man of the Match Benjamin Goff followed up with a try at 14’ and the Hallam conversion put the Pigs up 10-0. With Goff in the bin, Portland extended the lead to 13-0 before Valley answered at 34’ with a penalty. Hallam tacked on another penalty kick before the break for the halftime score of 16-3.
Valley closed the gap to 16-6 eight minutes into the second period but got no closer. Second half tries from outside center Patrick Weldon, fullback Josh Duchene, lock Daniel Walsh and a PK from Nick Dean finished up the scoring in the Pigs’ victory.
With weather conditions making for some difficult handling, Portland coach Mark Mahecic was “overall satisfied with the performance. Valley did a very good job in defense, and both teams showed good discipline throughout. All in all, it was a team effort, and we’re excited for the rest of our season.”
In another one-point Pacific Northwest match, the Eastside Tsunami earned a tight 24-23 victory over ORSU. Eastside rode four tries and two key conversions to the win.
Wing Nathan Kimmel led the way for ORSU with two tries, but it was not enough as the home team came up just short. “Playing the Tsunami is always a tough match for us. Their players are large, fast and athletic,” explained ORSU coach Grey Lerner. “We didn’t stick to our game plan of kicking out of our half for territory and presenting a staunch defensive line. When we did, we were able to score points. When we didn’t, it didn’t work as well for us.”
ORSU will try to regroup on the road as they head to Boise, Idaho to take on Snake River next week.
The Austin Blacks scored seven tries en route to a 44-14 victory over the Houston Athletic Rugby Club. Leading the way for the Blacks was wing Matt Radzavich with three tries. Joining him in the scoring column was outside center Patrick Medina, prop Tommy Gilmore, hooker Leonard Yandle, and inside center Adam Armstrong, who also hit three conversions and a penalty kick.