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Based on the results of Saturday’s action, the seeding for the upcoming DI NorCal playoffs was determined. One week of the regular season remains before the conference playoffs begin on April 16th.
Undefeated Life West (9-0) has earned the #1 seed after crushing Fresno, 85-5, and will face the #4 Sacramento Lions. The Lions (5-4) destroyed their cross-town rivals, the Sacramento Blackhawks, 72-5.
North divisional leader Santa Rosa (7-1-1) takes the #2 seed after pounding SFGG, 67-15. The first round of the playoffs for Rosa will feature a rematch of the March 12th tie with the #3 EPA Razorbacks (7-1-1). The Razorbacks beat the San Jose Seahawks on Saturday.
Life West continued its roll pounding out 13 tries by nine different layers to beat Fresno, 85-5. Led by a four-try performance by outside center Suli Holani, Calvin Nell (2), Eugene Faumuina, Tookey Stevenson, Tyler Harrison, Charlie Brennan, Leki Latu, Anthony Aranda, and Will Ramanakiwai each scored tries for the Gladiators and flyhalf Jarrod Faul converted ten of his kicks. Even though the Life West has seen multiple departures to PRO Rugby, it is still considered the team to beat in the west and is proving that fact each weekend.
“For us, it took a week or two to realize that they are on their own,” Life West head coach Adriaan Ferris said commenting on the fallout from PRO Rugby. “They are so used to some of the better players, like Orene Ai’i and Devereaux Ferris [who are now in PRO], making things happen, they needed to decide that they had to step up. We are pretty pleased with the way they played on Saturday and we know continuous improvement is required. We are really happy with the result, but we know we are a few weeks away from when the real tests begin.”
Santa Rosa locked up the second seed with a 67-15 victory over SFGG. With the win and the #2 seed, Santa Rosa will host the semi-final match against the EPA Razorbacks in two weeks.
Inside center Matt Klein busted out with four tries and flyhalf Felise Gadeisuva was right behind him with three for Santa Rosa. Josefa Uqeuqe, Ratu Beva, Ratu Tamaibeka, and Tyson Cummings each scored once and prop Justin Stine had five conversions. Jack Webb and Alex Ochoa scored for SFGG and Mike Keane had a conversion and a penalty.
With the Lions next week to finish the regular season and then EPA in the semi-finals, Santa Rosa coach Rick Humm stated, “We need to keep after it and have a good day against the Lions and we have the Razorbacks again on the following weekend. Those are both big asks for us. The last couple of years we have been in the playoffs with both of the teams and they are both going to be two tough matches. Hopefully, we can come through without suffering any injuries and we can keep on rolling. We are looking forward to some success, but staying healthy at the same time.”
With the 72-5 victory over the Sacramento Blackhawks, the Sacramento Lions secured the fourth seed in the playoffs and will play Life West in two weeks. Samuel Biutu, Edward Matakibau, Brett Henderson, Tevita Polaulu, Eminoni Mafi, Timoci Mule (2), Viliami Saafi, Uiese Vaefaga, Ryan Steele (2), Sione Vaka, and Timoci Driso each scored for the Lions and three players combined for six conversions. Estephan Tuamasaga scored the Blackhawks’ lone try of the game.
The Lions are in the midst of a two-game winning streak and finish with Santa Rosa next week. The Blackhawks were playing at a disadvantage on Saturday with about nine players missing from the starting lineup due to PRO Rugby, injuries and other commitments. The Lions controlled the game from the beginning and hope that their good fortune propels them far in the playoffs.
The details of the EPA Razorbacks at the San Jose Seahawks match were not available at the time of this publication. EPA closes the season against Life West in a potential NorCal Final preview.