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On a windless, warm day at Sheeran Field SFGG continued the club's romp through the Northern California D1 league with a decisive win over the EPA Bulldogs 84-7.
SFGG led 40-7 at halftime and opened it up from there. SFGG had run in 14 tries when referee Phil Akroyd blew the whistle with 15 minutes left.
Most of the the EPA Bulldogs had already played a B-side game, which they won 41-34, and were clearly out on their feet.
Once again the solid SFGG defense stifled the offensive efforts of their
opponents. The Bulldogs were physical, but were not quick to react to the
SFGG counter-attack. And with SFGG scrumhalf Mose Timoteo pouncing on
attacking opportunities, and with a wealth of tools to use, SFGG punished
Wing Jeff Colata scored the opener about ten minutes in, and 11 more players got involved. Hooker Chris Biller scored three while Danny LaPrevotte and Heinie McFarland had two apiece. Sone Pone, Paula Fukofuka, Paul Clements, Otusia Tupouata, Tom Rooke and Tevita Kolamatangi all touched down once, while flyhalf Volney Rouse added 14 points on seven conversions.
SFGG is now 6-0 in NorCal DI league play, and while they haven't clinched, they do not look to be caught.
Olympic Club secured their second victory of the season, 36-10 over the Bay Barbarians. Still they have much work to do to overcome their early forfeits.
Meanwhile the Sacramento Lions re-took 2nd place after a 27-10 defeat ofthe East Palo Alto Razorbacks.
“This game was too close for comfort,” said Lions Manager Aaron Frederick. “While we are certainly happy with the victory, there was no time in this match where we thought it was in the bag. The Razorbacks pushed us and they were a different team than the one we saw back in Sacramento.”
A key component to the Razorbacks improvement against the Lions was the return of Siupeli Sakalia, who was a handful for the Lions offensively and defensively. EPA Captain Sam Vailala also provided some flare for EPA and created a number of opportunities for his team.
The Razorbacks struck first with an unconverted try in the 12th minute. They would hold a 5-0 lead until the 30th minute when Lions wing Garrett Hawley caught a nice kick on the fly and dashed downfield before off-loaded to fullback Ratu Rinakama who dotted down between the posts. The conversion kick gave the Lions a 7-5 lead.
The Razorbacks would quickly answer regaining the lead, 10-7, in the 34th minute with another unconverted try. Lions lock Johnny Hopoi scooped up a dropped pass in the Razorbacks red zone and pushed his way in for the Lions 2nd try in the 36th minute. The converted kick put the Lions back on top 14-10. The Lions would put up one more unconverted try from flanker Eddie Matakibau in the 40th minute to take a halftime lead 19-10.
“We struggled this match to find our consistency,” observed Lions Head Coach Iferemie Tawake. “The Razorbacks played a tough match and contested us very well at the breakdown. This prevented us from playing our system of rugby. We have been concentrating on playing our pattern because when we do, we are a good team. I told the boys at the half to trust each other and trust the guy next to you is going to make the tackle or run the correct line. It is important we do not get down on each other.”
This match found the Lions frequently on the wrong side of the referee’s whistle and the Razorbacks opened up the 2nd half with a penalty kick to bring the score 19-13. The two teams continued to battle for points and it wasn’t until the 60th minute when Lions wing David Pale broke through the defense and raced his way to the try zone to score in the corner. The kick was unconverted and the Lions increased their lead 24-13.
Frederick noted that Pale has been a consistent offensive threat for the Lions all season.
“David is a talented young athlete. He is a humble player and would probably get more tries if he called for the ball more. When he gets the ball he is explosive and electric and can score from anywhere on the field.”
The Razorbacks would add one more converted try in the 78th minute to bring the score close at 24-20, but it wasn’t enough as the Lions solidified their lead with a penalty kick in the 80th minute to take home a 27-20 victory.
"We are always happy with a victory but this game could have gone either way,” said Tawake. "We tried some new things today, put players in new positions. Some of it worked and some of it did not. We are halfway through the season and have some very tough opponents ahead of us. I don’t think we have reached our full potential yet and we will work very hard in the next few weeks to make sure we can reach that by the season’s end.”
The NorCal league is a weird one, as OPSB plays only half of the number of
games other teams play. OPSB will be ranked based on how they do against
other teams in their games, rather than on total points. Since they have
beaten the Bulldogs and Olympic Club, they have an excellent shot at
finishing 2nd in the region, especially if they can also beat Sacramento
this coming weekend. That would give them and SFGG home playoff games
against SoCal teams (likely OMBAC, Los Angeles or San Diego Old Aztecs),
while the next two teams, which will be Sacramento, the Bulldogs, or still,
possibly, Olympic Club, should expect to travel to Belmont Shore or Santa
|NorCal DI Men League||
The Lions have some tough matches ahead with another tough home match next week against Old Puget Sound. This is the big game for the Lions, because they need to win to get a home playoff spot. Then the Lions play their second matches against EPA Bulldogs, Olympic Club, Bay Area Barbarians, and SF Golden Gate to close out the season.
“This is the point where we decide like Coach Tawake said if we are going to continue climbing towards the peak or just simply plateau,” said Frederick. “Our second half of the season is tough, but I think we can be successful.”