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Don Pati up the field for SFGG. Austin Brewin photo

In week four of PRP action, SFGG (3-1) got back to its winning ways with a 32-15 victory over OMBAC (2-2). The Glendale Raptors (2-1) came away with a 46-26 victory at Santa Monica (2-2). In the final game of the weekend, the Denver Barbarians led Belmont Shore, 13-7, before the game was suspended.

The first half in San Francisco was very back and forth with most of the game being played in the midfield. Pila Huihui continued to add to his try total, however, netting his first of two on the afternoon early in the game to give SFGG a 5-0 lead.

“Pila is a great finisher,” said SFGG head coach Mark Giacheri. “Although, I think a lot of credit has got to go to the team in general for them getting him the ball in space.”

Todd Clever evened the score for OMBAC, but a late penalty from Tai Enosa gave Golden Gate an 8-5 halftime lead. SFGG added to its lead minutes into the second half after Brendan Daly took the kickoff down the middle of the field. On an ensuing scrum, Don Pati found Huihui for his second score of the game.

OMBAC responded quickly, however, as Brian Doyle dotted down to cut the SFGG lead to 13-12. After the initial outburst to start the second half, things went back to the slower, physical encounter that dominated the first half.

Nearly three quarters of the way into the match, Enosa extended the SFGG lead with two penalties. With less than ten minutes to play, SFGG clung to an 18-12 lead but managed to secure three more penalties and a try at the death to win, 32-15. OMBAC earned a penalty in the middle of the action, but six penalties on the day from Enosa proved too much for the San Diego side.

“After the Glendale game, we were just a little bit disappointed and thought we could have done enough to win, and we were a bit hard on ourselves,” Giacheri said “To see the guys refocus and rebound in seven days is what you want to see from a team after a loss.”

Glendale vs. Santa Monica
Santa Monica opened the scoring against Glendale, but the Raptors responded with a try from Zach Fenoglio. The first half was very much back and forth, with teams trading tries. Santa Monica added a converted try to retake the lead, but Glendale tallied one of its own to tie the game at 12 apiece.

The Dolphins converted their third try of the afternoon to take a 19-12 lead with five minutes to go in the half, but Glendale dotted down right before halftime to cut the lead to 19-17.

“The first half was a real physical game, really grinding it and making some big hits,” Glendale coach Andre Snyman told Rugby Today. “It was a lot of close quarter contact.”

The Raptors decided to change their approach in the second half and attack the wide areas. The tactical change paid dividends as the slightly smaller and more agile visitors broke the game open. Using what Snyman referred to as their wide pattern, the Raptors were able to add four tries in the second half.

“At halftime we decided to change our game plan because they obviously had a big pack of forwards, much bigger than last year’s teams,” Snyman added. “In the second half we decided not to take too much contact and not to out muscle them but to outsmart them. “

Glendale scored two tries to take a 31-19 lead before Santa Monica struck back to cut the lead to 31-26. That was all the scoring the Dolphins would do, however, as Glendale added a penalty and two tries with less than ten minutes to play to win, 46-26.

Chad London scored twice for the visitors and Austin Welch received the man of the match award for Glendale. Cody Melphy scored a try and assisted on two others from his wing position. The front row for the Raptors, consisting of Fenoglio, Ben Tarr and Nick Wallace, also had a very strong game.

“Obviously there is a reason why they are Eagles,” Snyman said of his front row. “It is because they add a steady hand to the game.”

Denver vs. Belmont Shore
The game between Belmont Shore and Denver ended it an uncharacteristic fashion, as the game was suspended shortly into the second half. One of the players for Belmont shore was knocked unconscious, and out of precaution, an ambulance was called to the field. The game was delayed for 40 minutes while the injured player was taken to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the local high school, where the game was taking place, had its own police force on site. Fearing liability issues, the school police refused to allow the game to continue. Despite having a permit to use the field and insurance coverage through USA Rugby, Belmont Shore was unable to persuade the police officers. Being late in the afternoon, no administrators were on-site, thus the game had to be abandoned.

At the time of the suspension, Denver led 13-6. It is unclear whether the game will be continued. “Our president let the PRP committee know last night and there is a formal letter going this morning and it will probably be up to the PRP committee to determine the outcome of the game,” said Belmont Shore head coach, Ray Egan.

In all his years of coaching, Egan had never experienced anything like this and praised Denver for its understanding in the matter.

“It was a first for me and a first for the club,” Egan added. “I feel bad for both sets of players and in fairness to Denver, who were very acknowledging of the situation, offered to play the remainder of the game [Sunday] morning if we could find a field. I thought that was very honorable of them.”