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The EPA Razorbacks (4-0) solidified themselves as the team to beat in NorCal DI after a convincing 57-17 win over the San Jose Seahawks (1-2) Saturday. SFGG (2-1) picked up their second win of the season against the EPA Bulldogs (2-2) and Santa Rosa (1-2) used a strong second half to overcome their defensive struggles to defeat Fresno (1-3) for their first victory, 44-31. The Sacramento Lions were idle this week.
EPA Razorbacks at San Jose Seahawks
With the 57-17 win at the San Jose Seahawks, the EPA Razorbacks bring their undefeated streak to four games and have outscored their opponents by an average of 22 points. It was a total team effort for the Razorbacks as they scored eight tries by eight different players.
Wing Fatai Vailala, eightman Siupel Sakalia, scrumhalf Ronald Dwyer, hooker Andris Zingitis, and wing Anthony Munoz each scored in the first half for the Razorbacks and flyhalf William Paea chipped in four conversions for a 33-point first half. San Jose wing Brandon Taylor dotted the ball down in the 10th minute and the 39th minute to make the halftime score 33-10.
Three minutes into the second half, the Razorbacks were back on the board with a try by inside center Sam Vailala. The Seahawks responded with a try from prop Gabe Escalera and conversion by scrumhalf Joseph Matalvao. With the score 40-17, the Razorbacks shut down the San Jose attack and scored 17 points to close out the game. Outside center Isimeli Ratumaimuri and reserve Calvin Randleman pushed in tries for the Razorbacks and inside center Tomi Sau connected on a penalty kick and three conversions.
“The Razorbacks are an organized hard-hitting team that was pretty effective,” San Jose head coach Pat Guire said. “Not only when they tackled, the tackles were explosive and there was no offload for us off the tackle. You went straight to ground after you got tackled by these guys, it was that hard. Their outside center and their #8 are phenomenal in space running people over.”
EPA Bulldogs at SFGG
The game plan for the SFGG 29-14 victory in San Francisco, Calif. was to allow the EPA Bulldogs to pound the ball early and let fitness and defense take over in the second half. For SFGG head coach David Ridley, he said, “It was like an Ali rope-a-dope, we knew they would come out and try to smash us and we knew that we would have to bear it and they would eventually tire out. We knew if we could stay with them at halftime, we would get the win. At half time, it was 14 all and that was a moral victory. In the second half, we were more conditioned.”
Both teams came out of the gate trading blows like two prizefighters. The Bulldogs’ flanker Saia Tautahi Uhila scored first and SFGG hit back with a try by outside center Lucas Watson. The Bulldogs dotted the ball over for their second try under the posts and SFGG inside center Sebastian Urbieta Liegard replied by ripping the ball from his opponent’s clutches and sprinting 40 yards for the try. The score was knotted at 14-14 at half time and Ridley’s strategy was working.
SFGG scored 15 unanswered points in the second half and used the products of the club’s program to achieve the victory. Flyhalf Michael Keane, who was perfect on his conversions, connected on a penalty kick early in the half to extend the lead to 17-14. At the 56th minute, wing Josefa Vuatalevu scored on a two on one breakaway. The last try was from a counter attack started by Watson and finished by reserve Josh Holland that left players from both sides laying on the ground gasping for air. The defense held on for the last ten minutes and SFGG celebrated the victory.
“We got a couple of quality players who are fringe players for the PRP that are playing for us because they are so strong this year in those positions,” said Ridley. “At the end of the game, those guys are so skillful and so fit. Those guys were amazing and the defense was amazing.”
Fresno at Santa Rosa
The test between Fresno and Santa Rosa at For Pete’s Sake Field in Santa Rosa, Calif. was close at halftime, but Santa Rosa was able to string together three tries in the second to pull out a 41-33 victory.
Although Santa Rosa walked away with the win, head coach Rick Humm indicated that it was far from a fulfilling victory. “We gave up 33 points. The good news is that the fellas managed to score 44, so we came out on top. Giving up 33 points in our league is not a pathway to success... Our emphasis on how we attack is to support from depth and pass into hands is beginning to pay off, but again, we had too many defensive lapses.”
Fresno had the first chance to score three minutes into the match, but missed their penalty kick attempt. Santa Rosa took advantage of their opportunities and lock Thomas Fallon, flyhalf Greg Hildebrand, and wing Eric Williams each scored in the next 15 minutes of play. Prop Justin Stine converted one of his kicks to take a 17-0 early lead.
Flanker Casey Cornell and prop Montana Wilson scored back-to-back tries to get Fresno back in the game. Santa Rosa responded in kind with both wings Ilvasi Navia and Williams scoring to extend the lead to 29-12. Fresno came back again to cut the advantage to three points at halftime with tries by inside center Lucas Gaarde and outside center Chris Nelson. Wing Josh Santos was three for four on his conversions to inch Santa Rosa closer to the lead at 29-26.
Santa Rosa came out of the half on fire rattling off three tries and then they let their defense stifle the Fresno offense. Prop Ian Davis, outside Mike Rodrigues, and scrumhalf Chris Willover each scored in the first 20 minutes of the half. Fresno’s lock Tim Gutierrez managed to score in the 64th minute, but Santa Rosa’s defense clamped down in the final 15 minutes to preserve the 44-31 victory.
“It was a really good game,” Fresno head coach Frik Fourie stated. “The game was three points difference at half time. We were right behind, we came back and the guys fought really hard. Tried to stick to their guns, they showed real character. A lot of things are coming together for having a lot of inexperienced guys in there. I’m really proud of them, they showed a lot of character and kept fighting until the end. Santa Rosa played a real good game, they have a lot of talent in their team. Overall, it was a good game of rugby.”