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SoCal Rugby featured four games this weekend with varying results. Oceanside outgunned Santa Monica in a high scoring affair, 59-34, while Los Angeles escaped a second half comeback from OMBAC to win, 28-21. Belmont Shore stymied Downtown, 24-3, and the San Diego Old Aztecs outlasted Pasadena, 21-14.
With the emergence of the Pacific Rugby Premiership, OMBAC, Belmont Shore and Santa Monica have elected to field three sides, maintaining squads in DI. Since the PRP does not start for several weeks, these sides have the opportunity or risk of playing PRP players in DI matches. It is a testament to the competition of the league, that two of the three teams that field PRP sides lost this past weekend.
The only PRP club that won this weekend was Belmont Shore. A last minute field change in Las Vegas forced Downtown and Belmont Shore to move its game to a very narrow pitch. “It hurt both teams,” said Belmont Shore coach Rex Pitts.” “Neither team could get the ball wide and my outside center could literally hand the ball to my wing.”
Belmont Shore took a 10-0 lead into the break before Downtown notched its only points of the game with a penalty. Belmont Shore steadily took control of the game in the second half. Hayden Pitts and Brice Schilling had strong games in the pack, helping Belmont Shore score two more converted tries for the 24-3 victory.
With the win, Belmont moved to 2-0 in SoCal and its focus on more than just a conference title. “We are trying to win the national championship. That has always been Belmont Shore’s goal, ever since the club’s existence,” said Pitts.
Back in California, Los Angeles proved to be the better team in the first half against OMBAC, netting all 28 of its points in the first stanza. “The first half was more of shaking off the rust. We gave up a lot of stupid, slash, panic plays,” OMBAC captain Darren James told Rugby Today.
Despite shutting out Los Angeles in the second half, OMBAC could only muster 14 points and fell in a close, 28-21, encounter. After losing handily, 69-7, to a strong Los Angeles side last season, OMBAC is moving in the right direction. “With the pieces that we have now, especially in the forward pack, we are more mobile and more athletic,” James added.
The Old Aztecs and Pasadena played a tight match, primarily outside either teams’ 22. At halftime, Pasadena led 9-8 but a second half filled with errors allowed San Diego to take home the victory. “It was a hard fought game, but they controlled the ball better than we did,” Pasadena head coach Alex Rylance said.
Second half penalties and a failure to execute on the Aztec goal line cost Pasadena. A failed kick to touch resulted in a break out for San Diego and the subsequent sequence resulted in a try. In the end, Pasadena could not overcome a high penalty count and fell, 21-14.
SoCal DI rugby is beginning to heat up and with a tremendous amount of parity, it should prove to be a very exciting year in Southern California.