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With the PRP winding down, a pivotal matchup between Glendale (6-2) and SFGG (5-1-2) did not disappoint. SFGG overcame two yellow cards and a halftime deficit to win 23-21 at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. The Denver Barbarians (4-3) scored 38 unanswered second-half points to scorch Santa Monica (2-5-1) while OMBAC (4-4) broke out of a slump to defeat Olympic Club (0-7).
SFGG vs Glendale
In a typical SFGG, Glendale matchup, the contest went down to the last moments. “It could have gone either way,” said Glendale coach Andre Snyman. SFGG coach Mark Giachari added it was a, “tight game with not much between the two teams.”
Armandt Peens opened the scoring for Glendale with a penalty from 45 Meters out. The inside center had an excellent first half with the boot nailing three first-half penalties but missed a late penalty that could have given Glendale the victory.
SFGG responded five minutes later through great work from Pila Huihui. Huihui was involved in both of Gate’s tries and was active from the wing position all afternoon. He earned man of the match honors for his efforts.
“I thought he had a pretty good game,” Giachari said of Huihui. “He contributed on both tries and defensively was sound.”
At 7-3, Glendale began to chip away with penalties and eventually took a 9-7 lead. A penalty for a high tackle resulted in a yellow card against SFGG. The Raptors worked their way down field through a stingy SFGG defense. Some hard running around the fringes resulted in what was first deemed a knock-on at the goal line. USA Rugby’s own Kurt Weaver, who refereed the game, consulted with his assistant referee and the television match official. Although it appeared Zach Fenoglio had knocked the ball on, upon further review the ball went backwards and the try was awarded.
With less than a minute left in the first half, SFGG earned a penalty from more than 40 meters out. The kick was made, giving SFGG some momentum into the break. At the half, Glendale led 16-10.
SFGG added another penalty at the start of the second half and slowly started to take control of the game. The visitors finally took the lead off a beautifully designed scrum play. Huihui broke through the line and offloaded to oncoming teammate for a try under the posts. Midway through the second half Gate led 20-16.
Chad London answered at the 58-minute mark, dotting down the lead-changing try. Glendale appeared to be in the ascendency, earning a second man advantage with a penalty in front of the posts. Rather than taking the easy points that would have put them up four points, Glendale elected to go for the lineout. The home side failed to convert the lineout into points.
“We should have gone for the points,” Snyman indicated. “The senior players decided to go for the lineout and we won the lineout but we didn’t score from it.”
SFGG earned a penalty with 10 minutes to go. The missed opportunity for Glendale paved the way for SFGG to steal a 23-21 victory. Solid defense from SFGG kept Glendale at bay for the rest of the game to earn the win.
“I thought our defense was really good and we showed at moments of attack we are really good,” Giachari added.
SFGG has closed the gap at the top of the leader board but still remains in second place.
Denver vs Santa Monica
Santa Monica traveled to Colorado and controlled the game for most of the first half. Denver seemingly came out slow and with poor execution trailed 10-8 at the half.
“The first half we were really dialed in,” said affiliate coach Tyson Meeks. “We struggled a bit in the set piece and didn’t do a great job of holding onto possession.”
In the second half, Denver brought on some subs to stabilize the set piece. Ben Pinkleman and Paul Smith both came off the bench toward the end of the first half and made pretty big impacts. Pinkleman scored a couple of tries in the second half to help secure the victory.
Denver scored all the points in the second half, ultimately winning the game 46-10. “We did much better job of playing in the right areas of the field,” Meeks added. “Just holding onto our possession when we had it and building phases from it” allowed the Barbarians to put in a plethora of points.
OMBAC vs Olympic Club
OMBAC rebounded from a couple of tough losses to defeat OC yesterday. The first half was almost all OMBAC as Zach Pangelinan scored two first half tries to take 31-7 lead into the break.
The San Diego based side added a few more tries early in the second half including the final of a hat trick for Will Holder. Late in the game Olympic Club added two scores around one for OMBAC but ultimately fell 50-29.
Despite missing Todd Clever and Yoshio Kimishima, OMBAC produced points in droves. Mission Beach is now back at five hundred for the year and still in contention for a playoff spot. They sit even with Belmont Shore and two points up on Denver but have played one more game.
Belmont Shore, OMBAC and Denver are all chasing Glendale and SFGG for the top two spots. Olympic Club has been officially eliminated from playoff contention and Santa Monica’s chances are dwindling after a loss to Denver.