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An action packed weekend saw nine Division I club games across the country. In the most significant matches, the Austin Huns broke its 24-year losing streak to the Austin Blacks in a rout, 45-14, and the Glendale Raptors cracked New Orleans, 59-5, in a non-conference battle. The Huns are taking the Red River and the nation by storm, but face a stiff test next Saturday when they travel to Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. to meet the Raptors.
Elsewhere, the Reds beat the Harlequins, 33-12, in the fight for Dallas in the Red River; SFGG Gold, Olympic Club, and Life West were victorious in the Pacific North; ORSU began the Pacific Northwest spring season knocking off the Valley Kangaroos, 39-8; and Santa Monica and Pasadena won in the Pacific South.
Red River Conference
The Austin Huns continued its romp through the Red River by destroying last year’s DI National Runner-Up, the Austin Blacks, 45-14. The Blacks had historically ruled over the Huns in an epic one-sided rivalry dating back decades. On Saturday at Huns Field, the home team led 12-7 at halftime only to explode for five tries in the second half. With the win, the Huns are undefeated with a 4-0 overall record and 3-0 in the Red River.
The victory was a comprehensive win for the Huns as a different player scored each of the squad’s seven tries. Brian Welborn, Pierce Reed, Timothee Guillimin, Sani Taylor, Mason Pederson, Hanco Germishuys, and Lomani Tongotongo scored for the Huns and Guillimin added five conversions to total 15 points. In the loss, Sam Rooke and Tane Jericevich scored for the Blacks and Adam Armstrong chipped in both conversions.
With all the hype surrounding the match, Huns head coach Eugene Eloff said, “We didn’t make the game out to a big derby. I told my team, let's get off of social media and let's focus on being accurate, sticking to our game plan, and having fun. We kept it simple and didn’t make it too expansive. If we got good ball, we’d attack it wide.”
“Although they tried to get it wide, they wanted their pack to dominate,” Eloff added. “We scrummed them to pieces and we disrupted their lineouts. We took away their platform to play off and they battled to get driven from that.”
Next Saturday, the Huns will travel to Colorado to meet the Glendale Raptors; however, they will be without vice-captain Germishuys as he will be joining the USA Eagles in Chile. “It will be interesting to measure ourselves against one of the top teams in the USA. It’s going to be tough... I will look at what their strengths and weaknesses are and on those grounds, determine how we are going to play.”
In the other cross-town rivalry, the Dallas Reds were victorious over the hosting Harlequins, 33-12. Reds co-captain Blake Boulton led all scorers with a total of 18 points (a try, three penalties, and two conversions) and Jake Campey, Chad Joseph, and Dale Russ also scored for the visiting team. After getting shut out in the first half, the Quins never quit as Matt Taylor and Daron Liebenberg each dotted down tries in the final ten minutes of play.
“We know that our rivalry matches against the Quins are always going to be tough, and this match lived up to the billing,” Reds club president David Dodge said. “We made some adjustments to our backline after our loss to the Huns and those paid dividends with more expansive play. Strategically, we also took points when we were awarded a penalty within striking distance of the posts. Our set pieces remained strong; Jonny Heron and Chad Joseph were particularly impressive, stealing a fair number of Quin lineouts and winning our own put-ins.”
Glendale Raptors at New Orleans
The Raptors flew to Louisiana for Saturday’s test and promptly dismantled New Orleans, 59-5. It was Glendale’s third straight win and its third consecutive game where it scored more than 50 points. Despite leaving some points on the pitch, the Raptors raced out to a 24-0 lead at the half and then put in another five tries in the second half.
Even though Glendale won by a significant margin, head coach David Williams believes there is plenty to improve upon. “It was a bit scrappy of a game, we made far too many mistakes. [New Orleans] is a team in rebuilding. They weren’t the best team, but they are only going to get better.”
“The score should have been a lot more in our favor, but once again we improved as a team,” Williams continued. “We had some new combinations out there and it's good to see those boys gelling because we need the whole squad for the whole season to prosper. When we played to our systems and stuck our structure, we played well. When went outside that system and do it as individuals, then we had issues. Once we stuck to our systems and trusted each other, we played a lot better.”
With the Austin Huns coming to Infinity Park on Saturday, Coach Williams will have his men prepared. “We are looking at this as the top game of our season and our boys are looking to prepare as best they can this week... They have some potent attackers, a good set piece, and a good scrum. We have to win our set piece, win the physicality. As soon as you do that, we should have a good go at them and it should be a great cracking game of rugby.”
It’s a three-headed race in the Pacific North as SFGG Gold, Olympic Club, and Life West are competing for first place in the division. Each club won on Saturday as SFGG Gold improved its record to 3-0 in the spring with a 48-20 win over the EPA Razorbacks and the Olympic Club and Life West pulled to 3-1 marks blasted SFGG Green and Santa Rosa, respectively.
The Gold side of San Francisco Golden Gate remained undefeated in the Pacific North with a 48-20 victory over the East Palo Alto Razorbacks. Viliami Huihui, Tavite Vehikite, Patrick Latu, Fatai Vailala, Langilangi Haupeakui, and Dominic Lolohea scored for SFGG and outside center Colby Stevens totaled 13 points with five conversions and a penalty.
After losing to Life West last weekend, Olympic Club took its frustrations out on SFGG’s Green side to the tune of a 51-8 rout in San Francisco, Calif. The backline for Olympic Club had a field day with flyhalf William Johnston leading the charge with Josh Tucker and Mike Haley having exceptional games from their center positions. Richard Boebel (2), Tucker, Josh Gold, John Gallo, Haley, James Jones IV, Torsten Christian, and Oakley Cox each scored for OC Rugby.
Head coach Ray Lehner was happy but critical of the result on Saturday. "Our effort was good, but we failed to execute many times and after we made changes in the second half, we lost our shape considerably."
At For Pete’s Sake Field in Santa Rosa, Calif., Life West dominated hosting Santa Rosa, 54-13. With the win, Life West keeps pace with Olympic Club and SFGG Gold for the top spot in the conference. The Gladiators face SFGG Green next Saturday.
In its first match of the spring season, the Oregon Rugby Sports Union (ORSU) extended its undefeated streak to six games with a 39-8 win over the Valley Kangaroos. Dane Barclay, Lui Tuitavuki (2), and Tysen Gray crossed over the whitewash for ORSU, but it was fullback Tyler Thompson who had the golden boot with five penalties and two conversions.
“Our fitness and defense both played a big part in a successful match,” said ORSU coach Grey Lerner. “Hard tackling and communication helped us stop the hard-running Valley side. Our boys had gas in the tank for the full eighty where Valley was gassed at about 60 minutes.”
Santa Monica stayed perfect on Saturday with a 28-13 victory against San Diego. Held at the Dusty Rhodes Park in San Diego, Calif., the Dolphins trailed by four points at the half but came back in the second half with three tries and a PK to win.
After exchanging penalties to begin the game, San Diego’s Anthony Ellis scored the game’s first try. All Santa Monica could do to answer in the first half was Martial Chaput’s second penalty.
Down 10-6, the Dolphins refocused at the break and starting at the 60th minute, Santa Monica’s Philip Lydeard and Iain Herriott scored in the next ten minutes. The Old Aztecs’ Jaco Breytenbach notched his second penalty to cut the lead to 18-13, but a third penalty by Chaput and a late try by Conan Osborne put the game out of reach for San Diego.
In the first meeting between the two clubs, Pasadena and Tempe played a contentious match that was decided in the final minutes of the game. Pasadena trailed for most of the test before finally gaining the upper hand to score two late tries to win the match, 23-14.
After the first 40 minutes expired, the Tempe led 8-3 following a try by Kelepi Fifita and a penalty by Alex Taefu. Tempe’s Taefu and Pasadena’s Russell Pitts exchanged penalties in the beginning of the second half to bring the score to 14-9.
At that point, Pasadena’s forwards stepped up the pressure and took control of the game. A Ray Philips try gave Pasadena its first lead and then added to that lead after a 70 meter, 25-phase drive that ended with a Peter Koch score from two meters out. Pitts converted the try to extend the lead to 23-14 and defense held its ground for the final three minutes for the victory.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Pasadena head coach Aaron Tanner said. “In the first half, it rained pretty steady and really affected both teams. Tempe had a few more opportunities to secure, but the ball was pretty slippery. Our scrums struggled in the first half and Tempe was very good at competing for the ball at the breakdowns.”
“We felt like we made some good adjustments at half,” Tanner added. “We focused on shoring up our scrums and protecting the ball. I felt like we did both and that helped us win... [After it was 14-9,] it was all Pasadena. The forwards took control of the tempo and really took it to Tempe.”
Speaking on the loss, Tempe head coach Junior Faasoo said, “We played well, but there were a lot of unforced errors on Tempe and we couldn't capitalize on their opportunities. Wet conditions could not help Tempe’s case with slippery ball all around. Credit to Pasadena in the second half as they were able to convert their pressure into points.”
|HOME TEAM||SCORE||AWAY TEAM||CONFERENCE|
|New Orleans||5-59||Glendale Raptors||Non-Conference|
|East Palo Alto Razorbacks||20-48||SFGG Gold||Pacific North|
|Santa Rosa||13-54||Life West Gladiators||Pacific North|
|SFGG Green||8-51||Olympic Club Rugby||Pacific North|
|Oregon Sports Union||39-8||Valley Kangaroos||Pacific Northwest|
|San Diego Old Aztecs||13-28||Santa Monica Dolphins||Pacific South|
|Pasadena Rugby||23-14||Tempe Old Devils||Pacific South|
|Dallas Harlequins||12-33||Dallas Reds||Red River|
|Austin Huns||45-14||Austin Blacks||Red River|