By Austin Brewin
The weather disrupting the entire West Coast was only 1 of the challenges facing SFGG in this pivotal game against a strong, Kiwi - flavored Belmont Shore side on their territory. The weather kept us off the practice field, and with the airport delays we got to the field 30 minutes before kickoff.
Belmont were having problems of their own. Locked off their field because of the weather, they moved the game to Mira Costa High School, which has an artificial surface for their American Football team.
The narrow field not only cut down on space for the open field running game and makes the defense more efficient, but also seriously hindered strategic kicking opportunities.
Coach NEIL FOOTE’s assessment of SFGG’s first half play - awful – the first 20 minutes - dreadful. As the half progressed, the boys settled down and began playing as a unit. Behind 14 – 0, flyhalf ISOA DOLANDSON got Gate on the board, scoring and converting a try, then adding a penalty kick to close the half at 14 – 10 for Belmont.
SFGG continued to play to the pattern and won the game in the second half despite some discipline problems. Right wing FATAI VAILALA continued his aggressive play, scoring 2 tries, defending well, and earning Man of the Match honors. His second try salted the game away. At the end, Belmont scored another, inconsequential converted try to bring the final score to 25 – 21 for SFGG.
Captain BRENDAN DALY, had a solid game, rallying the troops into form. PILA HUIHUI at fullback had more attacking opportunities than he usually has from the wing. The forwards were solid and the defense solidified, keeping the talented Belmont backline away from the try line. PATRIC LATU came off the bench to take up where he left off.
SFGG lost 2 more players to injury. DANNY LaPROVOTTE went out with a leg injury which will keep him out of the lineup for at least next week. His replacement, RICKIE REYNOLDS suffered a foot injury which ends this short California Cup season for him.
Contributing to Belmont’s final score were penalties incurred by SFGG players.
Only 13 SFGG men were on the field at the end, with JARAD STALLING receiving a Red Card for a dangerous tackle which occurred following a Yellow Card issued for the same offense. This is a new Law, designed to reduce the risk of injuries.
Next week we face Life West in what amounts to a semi final game to get into the final. As a result of Saturday’s loss. Belmont is out of the Championship round.
Coach FOOTE was pleased with the grit shown by the entire squad. We have a group of younger players who have fully bought into the One Club concept, and will get better as we move on. We face Life West next week at their venue (TBD – hunting for an available field with the weather continuing to dominate the thinking).
We need to cut down on simple mistakes, and get a better grip on discipline. It looks like Wednesday may be the only rain-free day this week, so the Club is looking to get an all weather venue for that.