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The Pacific Rugby Premiership is back and a triple-header at Treasure Island in San Francisco, Calif. jump-started the 2018 season. After taking 2017 off, Saturday was a rugby day and the PRP did not disappoint. Life West and OMBAC dominated in the early and late matches, but it was the Belmont Shore versus San Francisco Golden Gate test that provided the drama. Belmont won in injury time, 30-29, after trailing in the last five minutes of play.
Following a bruising first half where Belmont Shore led 10-5, the action opened up in the second half with both sides’ offenses driving towards the line. After trailing 18-10 after 60 minutes, SFGG’s Dahlin Williams, Sam Peri, and Nathan Sylvia scored three successive tries in ten minutes to take the 29-18 advantage. With less than ten minutes remaining, Belmont cut the lead to six points following a Robert Newcomb try, but need a converted score to win the match.
“In the second half, SFGG seemed to get a second wind on us and we were getting tired,” Belmont head coach Ray Egan said. “They ran in two quick tries and we were in a bit of trouble going into the last ten minutes. At 29-23 down with three minutes to go, we stuck at it and our defense held out.”
“We were able to create turnovers in scrums and gave us a penalty with about a minute to go just outside their 22,” Egan continued. “Rather going for the lineout, we just tapped and went. We played phase play for about 15-16 phases and luckily enough snuck a pick and go in under the sticks. We converted to win it and the game was over.”
Prop and man of the match Mafi Seanoa scored the final try for Belmont and fullback Danny Thomas chipped in the crucial conversion for the one-point 30-29 victory. Describing his two-try performance, Egan praised Seanoa's play by saying, “He’s a hard, old wise guy in a young body and he got us the try when we needed someone to step up and be physical. In the last stint, he carried four of those 15 phases. He was definitely a standout with #8 Keni Nasoqeqe and #13 Peter Sio.”
To sum up the match, Egan said, “We did just enough to get a point, but SFGG is very good and their bench made an impact... We are glad with the win. We did the smash and grab and I think they thought they had it won. Hats off to our guys to stick at it defensively and never give up. It gave us the opportunity to win the game.”
Belmont Shore returns to Long Beach on Saturday and draws Olympic Club for its first home game of the season.
In the first match, PRP newcomer Life West asserted itself against Santa Monica to win 41-13. The Gladiators have always been a dominant force in California since their inception in 2014. Graduating to the PRP this season, Life West showed that it belongs in the top league.
On the victory, head coach Adriaan Ferris said, “We maintained possession well in the first half for long periods of time and we had to withstand Santa Monica’s hard working forward pack in the opening stanza. The first 20 minutes was a tight affair as both sides were feeling each other out. We managed to capitalize on a couple of cleverly taken opportunities created by Martini Talapusi in the first half to take a 24-6 lead into halftime.”
After Josefa Vuatalevu, Charlie Brennan (2), and Talapusi scored in the first half for the 18 point advantage, Vuatalevu and Siaosi Nonu tacked on tries in the second. Santa Monica’s Victor Woo scored the Dolphins’ lone try and flyhalf Shawn Lee kicked a pair of penalties and a conversion.
Talapusi earned Man of the Match honors contributing 16 points with a try, a penalty, and four conversions. “Martini’s game management and general direction at first 5/8 helped find mismatches in the Santa Monica defense. He had an outstanding game,” Ferris stated.
Despite the win, Ferris knows this is just the first match and there is room to improve. “Our main takeaway is that we have a lot more areas to work on but as our first game in any form this season (including preseason) we are happy with the win. It’s a start but we know we will need to improve in a lot of areas if we are to be where we want to be at the business end of the season.”
Santa Monica will look to improve on Saturday when it hosts SFGG.
In the final match at Treasure Island, OMBAC throttled Olympic Club, 52-10. Led by the go forward ball by Tai Tuisamoa, Jay Harmon and Jackson Larkin, OMBAC scored eight tries by eight different players. OMBAC shut out Olympic in the second half and built on its 26-10 lead to score four more times for the win.
The game was close for the first 20 minutes before OMBAC adjusted and excelled. “We started tackling better and gave up less line breaks that were putting us under pressure and requiring us to exit when we had the ball,” head coach Jason Wood said. “We played most of the final 60 minutes at the right end of the field and we're able to execute our pattern to apply pressure and that pressure lead to tries.”
Tim Stanfill, Tai Te’o, Nick Evans, Tai Tuisamoa, Ian Denham, Charlie Purdon, James Starks, and Logan Beggs each found the endzone for OMBAC. Denham was five for seven on conversions and Mike Dillon added one more at the end of the match. For Olympic, Drew Gaffney scored a try and Josh Tucker kicked a conversion and a penalty.
OMBAC is at home this Saturday and welcome Life West to Little Q in San Diego. Looking forward to the Gladiators, Wood said, “We have to maintain possession and control Life West's #9, Devereaux Ferris. He is a real good player and when he plays well, they play well.”