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After the Pacific Rugby Premiership kicked off its season last weekend at Treasure Island, the venues shifted to Southern California for the second round of games. All but one home team celebrated victory as Belmont Shore and OMBAC improved to 2-0 and SFGG evened its record to 1-1.
Following its closely fought one-point win last week against SFGG, Belmont Shore jumped all over the Olympic Club to a tune of a 54-25 romp in Long Beach, Calif. Led by the man of the match Keni Nasoqeqe with a hat trick, Belmont scored nine tries by seven different players. Rob Newcomb, Peter Sio, Ezekiel Dunn, Scott Findlay, Jonny Gray, and Pila Longi each crossed the whitewash in the win and Dan Thomas converted three kicks and a penalty.
“Our execution of turnover ball was key for us this week,” Belmont head coach Ray Egan said. “We were focused to perform as Olympic had beaten us at home last year and that hurt our playoff hopes. We didn't want that to happen this year.”
“We were fortunate to get an opportunistic early score which gave us some momentum but Olympic hit right back with a try and a penalty soon after,” Egan added. “Our lineout defense was very good this week and allowed us to gain good counterattack ball where I thought we looked dangerous. We supported our line breaks much better this week which allowed us to keep our continuity leading to tries. I am disappointed on how we finished by allowing Olympic to come back and score a couple of good tries. We need to focus and stick to the process for the full 80 minutes.”
It will be a battle of the undefeated on Saturday as Belmont hosts OMBAC. Speaking on the prospects of playing OMBAC, Egan said, “We have to improve our set piece from this week and I think we have to control the collisions. OMBAC is already going strong so I believe it will be a close typical darby game. We will look forward to the challenge as these are the games we want to play in the PRP and test ourselves against the best.”
Looking at the results from last weekend, the match between OMBAC and Life West shaped up to be an instant classic. In a tale of two halves, Life West blanked OMBAC for a 12-0 lead at the half, but OMBAC flipped the script in the second frame scoring three times and shutting out the Gladiators for the 24-12 win.
Life West’s Jacob Finau scored twice in the first half and Devereaux Ferris added a conversion for the 12-0 lead. At halftime, OMBAC Jason Wood told his squad “to win we need to play better including applying more pressure to regain possession when we kick. Too many kicks in the first half didn’t do that, just turned over possession and several times with solid counter from Life West’s #15 who had us under pressure in our end.”
According to Wood, the turning point of the game was OMBAC scoring in the first minute of second half. “Being down 12 at the break is tough, wind or no wind. Relieving seven of those points right away really put the momentum on our side and lifted the boys to be better in the second half.”
Lock Jackson Larkin earned the man of the match for his part in that first try. “Larkin took the honors for intercepting a pass deep in the zone and then offloading to Charlie Purdon for the first try. He had some good plays throughout the game but that play really turned the table in our favor.”
After Purdon’s try, Tai Tuisamoa and Tim Stanfill scored and Mike Dillon was perfect with the boot with three conversions and a penalty. Coach Wood was happy with the win but knows his club can play better.
The next chance to get improve is Saturday at Belmont Shore. After playing Belmont in the preseason and throughout the years, Wood is very familiar with his adversary. “Belmont launches their defensive line well and applies pressure immediately from turnover ball. If we can prevent those turnovers and get some runs behind that first line of defense, we’ll be in good shape.”
SFGG notched its first win of the 2018 PRP season defeating Santa Monica, 21-5. Following a scoreless first half, head coach Neil Foote told his troops at the break to “just stay calm and simplify things and be more direct in our launches, and make better decisions pre and post contact in order to get some continuity. Defensively, we were working well just needed to execute our handling skills under pressure.”
The words of wisdom worked as the man of the match Langilangi Haupeakui scored a pair of tries as a dominating physical presence on both offense and defense. However, Foote said, “the match really turned late in the game because of our defense on the line. Samuel Peri had great line speed and intercepted the ball and ran 90 meters to score.”
SFGG draws Life West at home on Saturday. Foote is looking forward to the match and will have his squad ready for the challenge. “For us to beat Life West this coming weekend, we are going to have to improve our overall skills across the board. We need to be disciplined at the breakdown and with our tackle technique. Both rounds to date we have been operating with less than 40 percent possession and that 40 percent we have been wasteful with it because of our handling errors. If we are to have a chance, we have to treasure the ball a lot more.”