Saturday night at the Clubhouse was “EVERYBODY LOVES FOOTIE” Night. There was a good crowd with folks from all the various sections that make up the Club in attendance. Thanks to the Women’s team who organized it - Food, drink, music and Footie – what’s not to like? The whole Club was represented under the “One Club” motto.
Story and Photos By Austin Brewin:
This week saw both our Women (Division 2) and Men’s (Division 1) teams advance on the USA RUGBY championship ladder. The Women won by forfeit over the Sacramento Amazons, and the Men continued undefeated in the North Pacific competition, beating the EPA Razorbacks 45 - 5 with one game left.
Friday evening we learned that neither of our teams would play at Sheeran Field as had been announced. The Amazons called in a forfeit, and we learned the league print out had an error – the Men’s game was actually meant to be in EPA. The Divisions 2 and 3 championship games were held as scheduled and saw Colusa defeat Chico for the Division 3 crown, and the Sacramento Blackhawks beat the Capitols for the Division 2.
SFGG and Life West locked up the 1 and 2 spots with the final league games next week. Life play EPA, and SFGG take on the Olympic Club, which lost to Life 53 - 28 on Saturday.
The game was played on the Rich May Memorial Field on a windy afternoon in front of a good local crowd, joined by loyal supporter including the Hardiman’s and the Barrett’s.
The field is small – 54 meters wide, 70 long, so the game plan was to keep the play in the center, keep EPA tied up until something opened up.
SFGG kicked to the Razorbacks who spilled the ball which was snagged and the game was on. On the front foot, SFGG, with great support, quickly moved upfield in numbers, with Fullback ISOA DONALSON scoring the first of his 3 tries at the 90 second mark. VOLNEY ROUSE, who was named Man of the Match, converted. It was the first of the 5 successful conversions.
It was a full team effort, which saw several players given the day off, and Prop JARED STALLING play his first full 80 minute game for the Gold team. JARED spent most of the season as a standout for the Green team and moved seamlessly into the lineup. Great to have HECTOR QUINONES and TEVITA OKUSI in the same backfield for the first time in a while.
Coach NEIL FOOTE was pleased with the effort. “We know EPA as a dangerous side, so wanted to take them out of the game early if we could. The field is also a challenge – it is narrow and always windy. Our men played a smart game, and VOLNEY’s tactical play and kicking controlled our position on the field and kept EPA off balance. Everybody did their part, and their only score came with 5 minutes left and we went loose for a bit.
Our set piece work was great – JARED is strong and skilled, and gave us a chance to rest a few people. We controlled the scrums, and the timing and accuracy in the lineouts has really gelled. We always want to execute with Pace, Power and Skill – we did that today.
We kept the pace up, scoring 7 tries on the day. The last was a gem - VOLNEY scored the final try at 79 minutes by kicking through the defenders and recovering his own ball.”
The Coach added: “Next week we have the O Club at home. We have a chance to continue our preparation for the USA Rugby D1 title. We will rest some people, get more work for a few, and move onto the Pacific North winner ORSU at Sheeran Field on May 6th. Getting through that puts us in Arizona for the Quarter and Semifinals on the Saturday and Sunday. We expect to have ability to bring a squad of 28 capable of playing competitive games on successive days. The winners move to the final in Denver. We intend to be there.”
By Austin Brewin
SFGG clinched First Place in the Pacific North (aka Northern California) USA Rugby Division 1 with a win over the Life West Gladiators at the California Maritime Academy on Saturday. The score was 38 – 28, with the go ahead score coming late in the second half. The win gives us the home field advantage for the first playoff game against one of the Oregon teams where their outcome is not settled. Firmly in second place, Life West will travel to Texas for their first playoff game.
The game was played at the California Maritime’s all weather field on a warm spring day. Life kicked off and in a flurry of activity scored just 2 minutes into the game and took the early lead 7 - 0. On the restart, the two teams went at it physical and verbally. Senior referee Phil Ackroyd repeatedly warned both sides to keep quiet, and emphasized it with a Yellow Card at 8 minutes to Devereaux Ferris, Life’s Scrum Half. A holding penalty minutes later allowed VOLNEY ROUSE to put SFGG on the board – SFGG 3 – LIFE 7.
After the restart, PILA IONGI fielded a kick and headed up the side line. He off loaded to Hooker NELL BARRETT roaring in support, who fed ROUSE to touch down, then converted his try to take a 10 - 7 lead.
The game flowed between the 20s as both sides took advantage of any error. The scrums were not ideal, but from his Number 8 position, AUKUILA PEPE UAISELE made good things happen. At 18 minutes he made picked up a loose ball, burst past the nearest defenders and, when the fullback committed to the tackle, fed PILA HUIHUI who strode under the posts to touched down. ROUSE converted – Score SFGG 17 – 7.
Life struck back at 22 minutes as an uncovered center scored near the posts. SFGG 17 – Life 14, As the scrappy half came to an end, HUIHUI made a break, drew the tackle and returned the favour, feeding UAISELE to score under the posts. The half ended SFGG 24 – Life West 14.
A Yellow Card to UAISELE 8 minutes after the restart (kicking the ball away). The Life Number 8 scored on a push over, the try converted and Life closed the gap to 24 - 21. On the restart – the deep kick was fielded and the wing sprinted up the sideline with good support, a missed tackle and Life regained the lead SFGG 24 – Life 28. SFGG assaulted the Life defenders, who rebuffed repeated efforts. With 8 minutes left, PATRICK LATU bulled over to regain the lead the converted try giving SFGG a 31 – 28 lead.
SFGG returned deep into the Life end, and a ROUSE kick through for what appeared a certain BRENDAN DALY try as he picked up the ball and drove over only to have the ball held up. From the scrum the ball was spun wide, and IZZIE DONALSON celebrated his return to the lineup with a try in the corner. ROUSE converted and the score held up to the final whistle SFGG 38 – Life West 28.
Coaches NEIL FOOTE and GRANT WELLS selected PAT LATU for their Man of the Match. Said FOOTE “Pat went in early when MONE LAUAUPEALU came out after a Yellow Card. As always, Patrick is a rock on defense and adds to our offense with his size, strength and skills.”
FOOTE went on to say “This was a crucial game. The loser will need to travel to Texas to advance. Both sides knew the stakes and entered the game anxious and edgy. It would be great to have these hard, challenging games every week. We have bumps and bruises. PILA IONGI came out on the concussion protocol, but appears fine. We lost a bit of focus riding the half time lead, but when we were behind with 10 minutes to go, the experienced guys kept us on track and finished the game. DANNY LaPREVOTTE stole that last lineout and we closed it out.
We have a couple of games left before facing the Northwest Winner here on May 6th to get to the D1 quarter finals in Arizona. We will rest and rotate as we go. We will have back to back games in Arizona on May 20 and 21, so will need all our squad of 28 players ready. The finals are in Denver on June 3rd”
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HERE IS AN INSTAGRAM VERSION
NEXT WEEK, APRIL 22:
SFGG Men Gold host EPA RAZORBACKS Noon
SFGG Women host Sacramento Amazons 10AM
GO GATE – ONWARD THROUGH THE FOG!
SFGG Gold 72 – 8 EPA Razorbacks
SFGG Green 12 – 25 Sacramento Lions
SFGG Women 0 – 17 All Blue (SFGG Women won by forfeit)
SFGG HIGH SCHOOL TEAMS – No games this week.
NEXT WEEK April 15
SFGG GOLD vs LIFE WEST 1:00 at California Maritime Academy
SFGG GREEN – Season has ended
SFGG WOMEN – Not known at this time
SFGG High School Teams Easter Tour To Vegas
By Austin Brewin
The undefeated SFGG Gold continued to improve in the continuity aspects of team play, beating the EPA Razorbacks convincingly 72 – 8, The solid defense which was key to defeating Life West last week was again dominant, allowing only a single try by the potent Razorbacks. The offense gelled, with a total of 12 tries and 6 conversions. BRENDAN HARDIMAN was named Man of the Match. Coach NEIL FOOTE said: “BRENDAN continues to do all the simple things well. He is solid on defense, his line-out work key to our attacking platform, and he has an understanding of the game that makes him a valuable part of our success.”
Northern California referee Paul Bretz whistled the start at Sheeran Field, and LANGILANGI HAUPEAKUI started the scoring 4 minutes into the game – the first of his 3 tries from his Number 8 position. VOLNEY ROUSE converted.
The Coach was pleased with the full team effort. “We are coming into the playoff season in good shape. The last 2 weeks we have had everybody playing as a team – COLBY STEVENS and VOLNEY moved us into the field position where we can mount our attacking game. We were able to rest some folks, and give everybody good playing time. We will have a healthy squad, playing well as we move through the playoff system, with solid depth at every position.”
Roster: 1 Jake Nelson, 2 Neill Barrett, 3 Pat Latu, 4 Nick Grass, 5 Brendan Hardiman, 6 Opeti Okusi, 7 Issac Helu, 8 Langilangi, 9 Colby Stevens, 10 Volney Rouse, 11 Pila Huihui, 12 Eae Okusi, 13 Vee Okusi, 14 Taveti Vehikite, 15 Pila Iongi, 16 Jared Stalling, 17 Saimoni Laulaupilau, 18 Niko, 19 Daniel Laprevotte, 20 Akuila, 21 Sone Poni, 22 Sai, 23 Fatai
4’ LANGILANGI HAUPEAKUI 5 VOLNEY ROUSE 2
15’ EPA Penalty Ratuami
20’ LANGILANGI HAUPEAKUI 5
27’ PILA IONGI 5
31” EPA Try (line break)
34’ LANGILANGI HAUPEAKUI 5 VOLNEY ROUSE 2
35’ VOLNEY ROUSE 5
39’ PILA IONGI 5 VOLNEY ROUSE 2
Score at the half: SFGG 31 – EPA 8; Full time: SFGG 72 – EPA 8
Life West scheduled to be played at 1:00 at the California Maritime Academy.
Captain MARTY CUNNIE spoke of the game, held at Sheeran Field, and related:
“We started short handed, but things picked up and it was a competitive match, with more cohesion and tackling which have plagued us through the year.
CHANCE KALU-FULMAONO had another good game at Center. The Lions got a breakaway try with 4 minutes to go to seal their win.
This was our last game of the year we and look forward to next year when we anticipate having a dedicated coaching staff. Of major importance is having our Northern California Union get the scheduling issues remedied. We, and others, were forced to play against teams with more resources and more talent, so we rarely were able to play competitively. This gets discouraging and leads to a lack of enthusiasm when facing a 2 hour drive to get hammered by top level clubs.
My thanks to the guys who hung in there, trained hard and played hard ….”