By Austin Brewin
With a dramatic end of game try and conversion, Life West came from behind to defeat SFGG by a score of 36 - 34 as time ran out under the lights at the California Maritime Academy’s field in Vallejo. Life West now move on the California Cup Championship game against OMBAC next Saturday, Jan 21 at 3PM on Treasure Island’s Sheeran Field. SFGG will play Belmont Shore in the consolation round at 1PM, following the 11AM game between Old Aztecs and Olympic Club.
Life West came out hard, testing the SFGG defense until winning a penalty kick at the 6 minute mark. Life took the early lead, 3 – 0. Winger FATAI VELALA broke a tackle deep in the SFGG territory and sprinted down the sideline, feeding NEIL BARRETT who finished the move, beating Life’s scrumhalf, Devereaux Ferris, to put 5 POINTS on the board. VOLNEY ROUSE, back at 10 after missing several weeks, converted to make it 7 – 3. The lead was short lived, as Life put up another converted try at 21 minutes to retake the lead. Captain BRENDAN DALY made a break up the center of the field, leading to an offensive run to hold a commanding lead as the half drew to a close, marred by lackluster play, allowing Life West to score under the posts to close the gap and gain a measure of confidence. Halftime score: SFGG 24 – Life West 17.
The second half opened with a disputed try by ISOA DONALDSON, who beat the defenders to a loose ball and touched it down under the posts. ROUSE converted. Life added a penalty kick.
DONALDSON added his 2nd try. With 15 minutes on the clock, SFGG went to 14 men when a Yellow card was issued for failing to wrap in a tackle. SFGG lost composure, failing to clear the ball when under the pressure. With 3 minutes time left on the field clock, Life took the lead 36 – 34 and held it until USA Rugby panelist NICK RICONO blew the final whistle.
It was a hard fought contest between 2 evenly matched teams. Coach NEIL FOOTE commented that it was in the end, “… a disappointing loss for SFGG. The opportunities to win, the intensity and skills were there to take the game, but several simple mistakes and a lack of composure again proved costly. Congratulations to Life for a gusty game played and won.”
He singled out flanker OPETI OKUSI for his Man of the Match honors, noting that O continues to bring his best to every minute of every game.
In the B side game, Life came out on top of another close contest between 2 talented teams 24 – 19. Prop JULLIAN ADEAMO was Man of the Match, featuring hard forward play and quick attacking forays by both sides. Scrum half TOM ORANGI showed a lot of his skills and speed.
Next week we have the end of the California Cup Season with all 6 teams on display at SHEERAN FIELD. SFGG’s training will remain positive, as the coaches will work on the issues that have lead to our several losses in tight games. Playing an equally skilled team one man short for 10 minutes is an invitation for a loss. The added pressure of trying to cover for a gap can too easily lead to dumb rugby. My first wife contends “dumb rugby” is redundant, but we say “Not at all.” To be corrected by training and effort.