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Kurt Morath kicking. Dave Barpal photo

San Diego scored a 37-24 victory in its debut Saturday, beating visiting Sacramento at Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego. The hosts never trailed, taking a commanding 24-3 lead into halftime.

It was all penalty kicks to start the game, with two Kurt Morath goals sandwiching one from Sacramento’s Harry Bennett to give the home team a 6-3 advantage. In the 15th minute, Morath added a third penalty.

The trend ended when Sacramento opted to punt a kickable penalty into touch and go for a try, but Ray Barkwill’s throw missed its mark, and San Diego scooped up the loose ball, going on the attack. Ryan Matyas made a break up the right touch line, and as Garrett Brewer tried to force him to touch, Matyas slipped an offload to Mike Te’o for the game’s first try. Morath missed the conversion, making it 14-3 with 21 minutes gone.

Bennett managed a clean break through the San Diego line not long after the kickoff, getting into the attacking 22, but he coughed the ball up, losing possession. Tim Stanfill reversed the field position with a blazing run, but lost the ball himself.

When Sacramento got possession, Brewer tried to clear the danger with a kick, but Matyas charged it down and scooped it to Stanfill, who fed Phil Mackenzie for the try. Morath converted and added a penalty right on the half-hour mark, making it 24-3, which is how the half would end.

Sacramento got a much needed shot in the arm at the onset of the second half. Some punishing runs in the attacking end resulted in a penalty five meters from pay dirt, and captain John Quill opted for a scrum. Like it had last week against Francisco, the powerful Sacramento pack drove over the try line, and Kyle Sumsion was able to ground the ball for a try. Bennett converted, cutting the deficit to 14.

San Diego erased the score with a flashy counterattack. The home side had an attacking lineout, Quill stole the ball, and Brewer punted it down the field. However, it bounced right into the hands of Mike Te’o, who put San Diego on the offensive. It appeared as though the ball was knocked on during on offload right at the try line, but Cecil Garber was awarded the try after diving on a loose ball. The conversion was missed – 29-10.

Sacramento kept after it, continuing to excel in the set pieces. A second try came through a lineout maul, with Barkwill dotting it down. The conversion was missed, leaving the visitors down 14 with more than 20 minutes to play.

Another score seemed on with another attacking lineout, but Barkwill’s throw wasn’t straight. San Diego opted for a scrum on its own five-meter, but Sacramento drove over and took a second ball against the head. Reserve No. 8 Langilangi Haupeakui, who had already contributed some hard charges, leapt for the try but was deemed to have knocked on.

San Diego put the nail in the coffin in the 70th minutes, with Te’o taking a handoff from Mackenzie from point-blank distance for his second try. The conversion was missed, but Sacramento trailed 34-17 with under 10 minutes to play.

Morath added a penalty in the 75th minute, and Robert Meeson scored a consolation try before the death. 

San Diego 37
Tries: Te'o (2), Garber, Mackenzie
Cons: Morath
Pens: Morath (5)

Sacramento 24
Tries: Sumsion, Meeson, Barkwill
Cons: Bennett (3)
Pens: Bennett

Match Details

04.23.16 San Diego, CA
Final Score
1 wins | 1 losses
San Diego
1 wins | 0 losses