PHILADELPHIA, PA – San Diego must have jettisoned their first-game jitters last week with the other 4 PRO teams, even though they didn’t play. Maybe they danced them away. Both sides had a fair number of errors, but it was San Diego who was more clinical.
Sacramento had the better scrum and were able to maul well. However, lost lineouts and turnovers killed them.
San Diego won some “easy” penalties early which Kurt Morath turned into points. Once San Diego started to build a lead, there was no turning back. The San Diego backs were a step quicker all match.
Kurt Morath made sure San Diego got off to a good start by capitalizing on early Sacramento errors. The first Sacramento lineout wasn’t straight, and Sacramento was penalized from the subsequent scrum. Morath kicked the penalty goal, and just like that, it was 3-0.
A few minutes later, San Diego lost their first lineout and Sacramento was able to put together several phases. San Diego was pinged for offsides. Harry Bennett put the penalty goal over, and after 8 minutes, it was 3-3.
San Diego was immediately given another chance for points when San Diego was called for obstruction during the run-back from the restart. Morath made the kick and put San Diego up again, 6-3.
Sacramento did have a chance to build some attacking pressure, but San Diego won too many of the collisions. From a lineout, Sione Tuihalamaka charged at the defensive line and one of the Sacramento defenders went high, giving Morath another chance for three. 16 minutes in, it was 9-3 to San Diego.
The opportunism for San Diego continued. Sacramento lost a lineout following a penalty, and the resulting possession ended with a Mikey Te’o try. Morath made a poor pass, but the bounce was good, and Ryan Matyas was off on a good run. He ended the run with a good pass to Te’o. The try was unconverted; San Diego 14, Sacramento 3.
In a microcosm of the match, Sacramento had several phases with no ground gained. Then Bennett made a break, but the moved ended with a knock on and San Diego scrum. Soon after, Tim Stanfill took off on a run that put San Diego inside the Sacramento 22. The move ended with a scrum, but this one was awarded to San Diego so they could keep the pressure on. Tai Tuisamoa, who came on early for Brian Doyle, got well over the gainline but then made a poor pass. Sacramento won the lineout, and flirted with running out from inside their 22. When they did attempt the clearing kick, Matyas charged it down and Phil Mackenzie scored.
Morath made the conversion to make it 21-3 after 27 minutes.
From restart, San Diego looked dangerous again, and Sacramento was called for another high tackle. Another 3 points for Morath and a 21 point lead for San Diego.
Sacramento built some pressure when they stole a scrum, but, ultimately, a knock on 5 meters from the line ended the Sacramento opportunity.
The second half started much better for Sacramento. They won a penalty, won the lineout, and then won another penalty 5 meters from the try line. They opted to scrum, and they drove San Diego into the try zone and Kyle Sumsion, who was slotted in at the 8-man position, applied the downward pressure for the try. The conversion was good, and after 6 minutes of the second half it was 24-10.
Several times during the second half, Sacramento had good runs – by the likes of Val Lee-Lo and Langilangi Haupeakui – only to lose the ball on the next phase.
San Diego lost a 23 meter lineout, but the Sacramento clearing kick did not find touch, and Te’o countered with help from Charlie Pardon and Mackenzie. The ball ended up bouncing into the Sacramento try zone where Cecil Garber was able to dive on it. At first, it looked like a knock on by San Diego, but, ultimately, the try was awarded and the lead back up to 21 points.
In the next passage of play, Sacramento had 2 lineouts near the San Diego try line. The first was not straight, but the second was won cleanly and the maul was driven over. Ray Barkwill was at the back of the maul and collected the 5 points. Bennett made the conversion to make it 29-17 with just over 20 minutes to play.
Before too long, Sacramento had another 5 meter lineout. This one was, again, not straight. Sacramento stole the scrum but weren’t able to ground it over the try line.
Then it was San Diego’s turn to lose the ball inside the Sacramento 22. However, Sacramento struggled to get a good clearing kick away and Stanfill was able to put San Diego right back into the 22. They build an overlap and Te’o scored his second try of the match. With 8 minutes to play, San Diego was up 34-17
San Diego scored their final 3 points after Sacramento made a mess of a quick lineout and gave up a penalty at the breakdown.
Sacramento wasn’t done, though. They won a free kick from a 23 meter scrum and went quickly. They drove down and won a 5 meter penalty. They went quickly and Robert Meeson scored the match’s final try.
Final score: 37-24.
While I couldn’t see any bees, there did some to be a general buzz building from the Beer Garden.
San Diego: 1 Hubert Buydens 2 Mikey Sosene-Feagai 3 Sam Taungakava 4 David Dolinar 5 Brian Doyle 6 Nikola Bursic 7 Cecil Garber 8 Sione Tuihalamaka 9 Charlie Purdon 10 Kurt Morath 11 Tim Stanfill 12 Phil Mackenzie 13 Ryan Matyas 14 Pono Haitsuka 15 Mikey Te’o 16 Tim Barford 17 Epi Kalamani 18 Kakalia Pule 19 Tai Tuisamoa 20 Chris Turori 21 Tom Bliss 22 Kalei Konrad 23 Ben Leatigaga
Sacramento: 1 Val Lee-Lo 2 Ray Barkwill 3 Olive Kilifi 4 Robert Meeson 5 Sione Sina 6 Kyle Sumsion 7 John Quill 8 Sione Latu 9 Chris Saint 10 Harry Bennett 11 Ryan Thompson 12 Alipate Takiveikata 13 Mirco Bergamasco 14 Joeli Tikoisuva 15 Garrett Brewer 16 Kali Tavake 17 Toke Kefu 18 Richard Knight 19 Langilangi Haupeakui 20 Estaphan Tuimasanga 21 Nemia Qoro 22 Jope Motokana 23 Ryan Keowler