By Austin Brewin
On a rain-drenched Sheeran Field the short, intense competition between top teams supplemented with guest players, ended with OMBAC holding off Life West 26 – 22 to win the Trophy. SFGG edged past Belmont Shore 20 – 18 to secure 3rd place. The day opened with the Olympic Club running away from the Old Aztecs to take it with a 50 – 14 win – their first of the competition.
SFGG took the kickoff at 1:00 from Belmont Shore and moved the ball across and up into Belmont territory on a long break by center LIMOTO FILIKATONGA, only to lose possession and found themselves defending the goal from a fired up Belmont. The pattern was set. The field, which was under water as late in the week as Friday, was in good shape top side, but treacherous underneath. This allowed attacking moves to begin, but hard cuts and set scrums were a challenge.
Man of the Match COLBY STEVENS kept the game in control – keeping Belmont on their heels.
With the wet field conditions, both teams kept their wide open game under wraps, and we saw a great deal more ball control and the kicking game than we are used to.
On regaining possession the OPETI brothers were instrumental on the counterattack, with “E” taking the ball into a tackle at midfield with close support from the entire forward pack. “O” spotted an opening down the middle of the field, sprinted 20 meters for his try under the posts at the 5:30 mark. VOLNEY ROUSE converted.
Belmont scored an uncoverted try at 16 minutes as the heavy hitting on a heavy field continued. ROUSE added a penalty kick at 20 minutes to bring the score to 10 – 7 for SFGG. Five minutes later, the first Green Card your writer has ever seen was issued to FATAI VAILALA for a high tackle. Belmont scored from the penalty, converted and took the lead into the half by 10 – 12.
As the half resumed, IZZIE DONALDSON made a long break, linked up back to the middle of the field and center FILIKATONGA scored in the corner. ROUSE’s plant foot skidded and the ball went left. SFGG regained the lead 15 – 12.
The heavy slogging and hitting resumed. In one series, every forward had a turn running the ball. At 55 minutes, TOM ROOKE broke a tackle 20 meters out and headed for the line, breaking another but stretching out for the try. VOLNEY ROUSE then added 2 and SFGG took the lead 20 – 12 with less than 18 minutes left. Belmont closed it to 20 – 18 with a penalty kick and that’s where it ended.
Coach NEIL FOOTE was pleased with the effort put out by all the players under the pressure of a very good opponent, the weather and the field conditions.
Like others, our players are still adjusting to the new tackle laws, where a tackler who makes contact with a ball carrier’s head – even if he ducks – is a penalty.
NEIL commented that the competition was terrific – most of the games between the top 4 were decided by one score or less. The problem is the short season, and the lack of a stable national structure.
SFGG opens the Nor Cal Division I season on Feb 8 at Sheeran field. We are still trying to get a competition for the B side players – not enough of the teams field 2 sides. Stay tuned.
NEIL was especially pleased at the turn out for the games and party. He was so pleased that he burst into song when he got his hands on the mic and a willing band...