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Through eight weeks of the spring 2016 season for Northern California, only two teams have unblemished records. Life West and Santa Clara successfully defended their résumés this past Saturday as the Gladiators blitzed San Jose 112-10 and Santa Rosa bashed the Sacramento Blackhawks, 61-29.
For San Francisco-Golden Gate, the winning streak is now at three games with a 43-12 win over the Sacramento Lions at home. In the final match, Fresno handed the EPA Razorbacks a forfeit due to player unavailability. With the Las Vegas Invitational this weekend, NorCal will pick back up on March 12th.
San Jose Seahawks at Life West Gladiators
With approximately 25 players unavailable due Pro Rugby, the upcoming LVI 7s, injuries and personal commitments, the Life West reserves and second stringers stepped up and brought home the most lopsided victory in the NorCal this season at 112-10. The Gladiators won by 102 points with 18 tries by 12 different players and 11 conversions.
Life West head coach Adriaan Ferris said the key to the game was “our ability to maintain discipline to stick to our attack structure, even when things loosened up throughout the game. That was pleasing to see. The lads could have been selfish in try scoring opportunities, but we played for one another and followed our process. A number of boys dotted down, which I believe, is evidence of our team attack philosophy”.
Charlie Brennan (4), Tino Mafi (2), Will Ramanakiwai (2), Calvin Nell (2), Semisi Mailau, Huluholo Moungaloa, Maka Tameilau, Drake Vatuvei, Anthony Aranda, Leki Latu, Tevita Tonga, and Calvin Randleman each scored tries for Life West. Mailau made eight conversions, while Tyler Harrison added three more in the win.
According to Ferris, the standout forward was 19-year-old, 6'8" lock Sisi (Siaosi) Mahoni. He was dynamic in phase play and dominated offensive and defensive lineouts. As for the backs, replacement halfback Semisi Mailau worked hard to get the ball out of strongly contested rucks.
Sacramento Blackhawks at Santa Rosa
For the first half, the game between Santa Rosa and the Sacramento Blackhawks was tight with three lead changes and a one point Blackhawk lead at halftime. All hope of holding onto the advantage evaporated less the ten minutes into the second half as the Santa Rosa forwards asserted their authority being the catalyst for seven straight tries and the key to the 61-29 victory.
“It was a good win,” Santa Rosa coach Rick Hum stated. “Again, the strength of the forwards won the game. The Blackhawks had a couple of occasions where their backs dominated our backs, which wee need to work on. The Man of the Match was Tyson Cummings, who had a hat trick. Strong forwards performance with good attacking and defense by our backs.”
Tyson Cummings (3), Ratu Tamaibeka (2), James Trappe, Manuel Ambriz, Felise Gadeisuva, and Thomas Tower scored tries for Santa Rosa and prop Justin Stine totaled 16 points with two penalties and five conversions. Wayne Koi, Leialoha Fotofili, John Latu (2), and Robert Carter dotted the ball down for Sacramento and Josh Toy contributed with two conversions.
Commenting on the loss, Blackhawks head coach Ben Parker remarked, “Credit to Santa Rosa for putting on a scrum clinic in the second half. However, it was good to see five tries scored by our backs.”
Sacramento Lions at San Francisco Golden Gate
After opening the season with three losses, SFGG has righted the ship and ripped off three straight victories while enjoying the friendly confines of Treasure Island, Calif. In the latest installment, SFGG beat the Sacramento Lions, 43-12. The Lions are going in the opposite direction after winning their first three games, but have lost three consecutive games. Life won’t be any easier for either team as Life West is next for the Lions and Santa Rosa faces the EPA Razorbacks.
SFGG busted out to a 19-0 lead behind tries from Houston Noema, Mike Keane, and Marty Cunnie with two conversions by Keane. The Lions scored towards the end of the half to make the advantage 19-7.
SFGG picked up the momentum in the second half with tries by Chance Chansen, Cunnie, and Jack Webb. Keane was perfect with his boot hitting three conversions and a penalty. The Lions put in one more as time wound down, but SFGG earned its third victory with the 43-12 win.
“The game started off very well for us,” SFGG captain Jack Webb said. “We dominated a couple of the early set pieces and put points on the board right away. It is a lot easier to play from ahead than from behind. We found a rhythm and settled down. We weren’t forced to take any chances and do anything drastic in order to catch up or anything. We just settled into our style of play.”
Webb attributes the three game winning streak to some good home cooking. “Having three games at home has helped out a lot. Home field advantage is real when you have to drive a few hours to face your opponents on their turf. We simplified everything in our system and dialed it back to where everyone was comfortable with instead of trying to insert new elements.”