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San Francisco Golden Gate held off a second-half surge from Life University to win their second Super League title in three years, 20-15 Saturday in Marietta, Ga.
SFGG led 17-9 at halftime, but wilted a little in the Georgia heat, netting only a single Volney Rouse penalty in the second period. All of Life's points came from fullback Aaron McMaster, as SFGG did well to hold the hosts out of their own try zone.
The Californians started high energy and early on were able to punish Life on a counter, with Samu Manoa, in his final game for SFGG before joining Northampton, scoring the try.
Life would answer with three McMaster penalties, but some significant
psychological damage had been done.
"We knew going into the game that if we concentrated on our defense; We kinew we would score some tries, we just had to concentrate on defense," said SFGG Head Coach Paul Keeler. "We were a little disappointed in the number of penalties we gave up, but we were able to turn it on in those couple of moments to score those tries. When we were able to score on them so quickly I got the sense that [Life wasn't] very happy. From then they were kind of chasing the game."
Folau Moleloa ran in a quick-strike try also, and Volney Rouse converted both, and added a penalty for a 17-9 halftime lead.
In the second half, the heat seemed to wear on both teams, and SFGG continued to get into penalty trouble. That slowed everything down, but the curious thing was that Life opted to keep going for tries, when they had a goalkicker, McMaster, who was kicking well.
SFGG's desperate defense then held the Running Eagles out.
"I am very proud of the guys because they won playing a game we're not know for," said Keeler. "They proved they can win playing any kind of game."
Late in the game Manoa broke through for what could have been the killer
try. Keeler said he thought the game would have been sealed if he had
scored. Manoa was hauled down, however, and then Keeler urged his forwards
to simply pick and go to grind out the game, which they did.
Center Mile Pulu was named MVP, and Keeler approved of the choice, but also noted that hooker Chris Biller was outstanding.
"His experience with Cal in playing in big games really helped us," said Keeler. "He kept everyone calm and focused. I think it's easy to overlook what a great game he had."