You are here
The opening weekend of Pacific Rugby Premiership play is in the books. Both of the finalists snagged victories, albeit in different manners. Glendale dominated Olympic Club 71-17 while SFGG grinded out a 24-6 win over Belmont Shore. In the final game of the weekend OMBAC smacked the Denver Barbarian 49-3.
The reigning champions conceded the opening score of the game to Olympic Club in the first five minutes, but responded immediately and often to put this game away midway through the first half. The Raptors exploited the space out wide for five tries in the first 30 minutes and a 38-5 lead. Wingers Dewon Reed and Martin Knoetze combined for fiver scores on the day with the latter getting a hat trick.
“They caught us with a little bit of a surprise at the midfield and there was a miscommunication in the midfield between two players….I think that was a wake up call for my team and they realized that they had to step up here,” said Glendale coach Andre Snyman.
Glendale welcomes Niku Kruger to the side this season and the former Kutztown University standout and current USA Eagle slotted in at flyhalf rather than his traditional nine spot for the first half.
“For me it is a sin to have Mose Timoteo and Niku Kruger on the team and one of them should sit on the bench. You have got to top quality players and one of them should not sit on the bench. What I was trying yesterday was to get both of them gametime,” added Snyman.
The second game held at Ray Sheeran field in San Francisco was a much closer affair. Belmont Shore and the Rhinos of SFGG played a very tight contest that didn’t yield a try in the first half. At the break, the teams were deadlocked at six.
“It was fairly tight. There was no real opportunity in the first half for scores,” Belmont Shore coach Ray Egan told Rugby Today.
The Rhinos opened the second half with two more penalties to take a 12-6 lead. SFGG controlled a lot of possession in the match, but struggled against the Belmont Shore scrum. Late in the second half, SFGG had a put in deep in its own territory and Belmont Shore attempted to push over the ball like it had on several occasions earlier in the game. However, the referee pinged the visitors for a penalty and the momentum really shifted in favor of the Rhinos.
“We were very much angling towards turning that over. We had already turned over a few so it was prime real estate for us,” Egan added. Referring to the penalty, “that kind of changed the tide a little bit.”
With 20 minutes to play SFGG broke through the middle from thirty yards out to score the games first try. The Rhinos added one more late to seal the victory.
“It looked like it was going to be a low scoring game, particularly in the second half, kind of the first person to score a try was going to go on and win it. Which is what San Francisco did,” concluded Egan.
OMBAC dominated possession and territory in a 46-3 victory over Denver. The San Diego based side was without a few backs including captain Ian Denham, and was happy to play a forward dominated game. Tai Tuisamoa, who played last year with the London Scottish, returned to OMBAC and impacted the game from the number eight position. Combined with the fact that Denver was missing Ata Malifa and Max De Achaval, the game plan worked to perfection.
“When they couldn’t really move it too expansively, we knew we had the tight five players to beat them over the gain line. That was good for us especially knowing we had a few backs injured,” Denham told Rugby Today.
With the absense of several backs, 19-year-old Matt Long had an opportunity to impress the coaching staff. The winger tallied three tries in a splendid debut. Along with the solid halfback combination of Jamie Purcell and Kalei Konrad, OMBAC had no trouble extending an 18-0 halftime lead into a rout.
Denver struggled to get any continuity going throughout the game and only really mustered up a few good sequences in the final 15 minutes of the match. Nevertheless, OMBAC’s defense held firm.
“They threw everything they had at us and we still managed to hold out,” Denham said of his side’s defensive structure. “We know that we have a long way to go especially against some of the tougher teams but overall the effort was something we could kind of take from it.”