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After six weeks of action, the PRP is beginning to stratify. Glendale improved to (4-1) with a 35-21 victory over rival Denver (2-3), while Belmont Shore (3-2) kept Olympic Club (0-5) winless with a 43-29 victory. Finally, SFGG (3-1-1) and Santa Monica (2-2-1) recorded the first tie of the competition this year, finishing deadlocked at 22 a piece.
Glendale vs. Denver
The game between the two Colorado sides opened with the Barbarians getting first blood. After trailing 7-0, however, the Raptors cut into the lead with a penalty, then secured a lead they would never surrender thanks to a try from Preston Bryant. Bryant tallied three tries on the afternoon and earned the man of the match award for his effort.
“It took him a while to find his form, and he’s been playing ok, but we had a chat during the week about his performance and what he needed to work on,” said Glendale coach Andre Snyman. “It seems like it came together on Saturday, and he managed to put in a good performance.”
Bryant’s second of the game extended the lead to 17-7, and winger Brett Willis dove over right before halftime to give Glendale a 22-7 lead going into the break. The Raptors added to their lead early in the second half with a penalty, but a try from Denver left the game at 25-14. Bryant’s third of the afternoon pushed the score to 30-14, but the Barbarians refused to quit, scoring a converted try.
Glendale sealed the victory with another try, earning a bonus point for its performance. Snyman was very pleased with the victory, especially over a local rival.
“There is always a rivalry between the two, and we knew we were going to be in for a tough game between two quality teams,” Snyman added. “I am really happy and proud of my boys the way that they believed in the structure and the patterns and the way they stuck together.”
Belmont Shore vs. Olympic Club
Behind three tries apiece from Mike Teo and Sinapati Uiagalelei, Belmont Shore netted a 43-29 victory over Olympic Club. Belmont opened the scoring but gave away a try immediately following to trail 7-5. Nevertheless, Belmont scored 19 unanswered points to take a 24-7 lead into halftime.
“We controlled the game very well,” Belmont Shore coach Ray Egan said of the first half. “Our tempo and our pace were very good.”
Belmont Shore looked to be on the way to a comfortable win and despite a try in the second half, Olympic Club worked its way back into the game and tied the score at 29.
“We went through a 15-minute period where O-Club capitalized on our mistakes and credit to them; they showed some true spirit to tie the game,” Egan added.
With the game tied, Belmont Shore made a few tactical changes including moving Teo from fullback to flyhalf. With the ball in hand more, Belmont Shore added two tries to take home the win.
“Everyone knows about Mike Teo at this stage. He is an excellent player. His hunger for the ball is exceptional and exciting and he’s very aware of things and he’s very good at seeing the opportunities.”
With the win Belmont Shore snapped a two game skid. Olympic Club continues to be competitive during games but is still searching for that elusive first victory.
SFGG vs. Santa Monica
In a back-and-forth affair, Santa Monica and SFGG battled to a tie Saturday. Neither team could mount more than a one-score lead, and at both the halftime and final whistle the game was deadlocked.
“There wasn’t much between the teams,” SFGG coach Marc Giachari told Rugby Today. “We have got to give a lot of credit to Santa Monica, they have improved their defense in recent weeks. Particularly the first 40 minutes, it was a tough game.”
Points were at a premium in the first half, despite it being a very high-paced game. Both teams ran the ball hard but excellent defense from both sides left it 8-8 going into the break.
“Both teams were working in defense. There were try scoring opportunities in the first half but there was good scramble defense from both teams,” Giachari added.
SFGG opened the scoring in the second half with a try but Santa Monica evened the scoring after dotting down. After some sustained play inside the Dolphin half by SFGG, a turnover and a kick down field yielded a second consecutive try to Santa Monica. With 10 minutes to go, however, SFGG punched one in to tie the game. Neither team could muster any more points and the game ended in a draw.
With a fourth consecutive victory, Glendale moves into sole possession of first place. SFGG sits in second currently, but might be kicking itself down the road with a tie in its record. Santa Monica, OMBAC and Belmont Shore all sit within striking distance of the league leaders. With the half the season in the books, the PRP is shaping up to have quite a competitive finish.