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.”