PHILADELPHIA, PA – Sacramento dominated the last 35 minutes against San Francisco and won PRO Rugby’s second-ever match, 37-25. The match was close throughout with Sacramento scoring 17 points in the last 12 minutes.
Sacramento got off to a good start and scored first through a Mirco Bergamasco penalty goal.
It wasn’t long before San Francisco responded. From a lineout inside the Sacramento 22, San Francisco built momentum through good runs by their forwards. Patrick Latu and Tom Coolican both had strong runs helping to set up Alec Gletzer for the try. Volney Rouse converted to put San Francisco up 7-3.
San Francisco lost a lineout, but a strong defensive passage earned them a penalty goal attempt. Rouse’s kick from over 40 meters was good to extend the lead t0 10-3.
Both sides showed a willingness to attack from deep. Jake Anderson had a long run for San Francisco and made a good pass to keep the ball alive and the pressure on until a San Francisco penalty killed the momentum. Both sides had attacking opportunities fizzle out with errors.
The distribution from Rouse was inconsistent. A few passes floated, putting his teammates into difficult positions. In one instance, the Sacramento defense reacted well, won a penalty from the breakdown, and then kicked to touch for a lineout 22 meters out. A strong maul went to ground 2 meters from the try line. Sacramento won another penalty and opted to scrum. They won another penalty and opted again for a scrum. On the first phase after the scrum, San Francisco stole the ball, but the clearing kick was poor. Sacramento was right back inside the San Francisco 22. Jope Motokana, the Sacramento scrum half, saw a gap and went over for a try. The conversion was missed, and after 26 minutes, Sacramento trailed 10-8.
Sacramento failed to handle the restart and San Francisco gathered and attacked. Anderson looked like he would get the next try, but Rashad Harbor and Bergamasco tackled him into touch. San Francisco kept the pressure on as Alipate Takiveikata broke the line and got them back into the 22. Unfortunately for San Francisco, they turned the ball over following a 10 meter scrum. To relieve the pressure, Sacramento 10 Harry Bennett kicked long. Garrett Brewer showed a great piece of skill to gather the ball at close-to full pace and then kept charging to the try zone to put Sacramento into the lead again.
Again, Sacramento could not handle the restart and knocked on. San Francisco ran a good move from the scrum but turned the ball over inside the 22. However, from their next lineout, Martini Talapusi broke the line and out San Francisco onto the front foot. It was Rouse who finished the move with the try to take back the lead. After the conversion, San Francisco led 17-13 with a few minutes left in the half.
The half ended with some sloppy exchanges, and the score remained 17-13 with San Francisco in the lead.
In the second half, San Francisco kept up the pressure. A poor Sacramento clearing kick gave San Francisco the ball in good position. Nick Blevins made a good run and then, from the deck, popped to Siupeli Sakalia who scored the try. The conversion was missed by Devereaux Ferris who came on as scrum half at halftime. 22-13.
Soon after that try, it was Sacramento’s turn to apply an extended period of pressure. It started with a big hit by Siona Sina, who had a good match in attack and defense. That hit helped get the Sacramento defense moving forward and they won a penalty at the next breakdown. From there, San Francisco struggled to get out of their half. Sacramento made several aggressive decisions from penalties, taking a quick tap, scrum, and lineout. They did not score, though.
The ball was moved out of the San Francisco 22 and the referee had his arm out to award San Francisco a penalty that would have allowed them to get out of their own half. Instead, Nick Grass threw a punch and tried to gouge the eye of Kyle Sumsion. The penalty was reversed and Grass was given a yellow card. Grass has since been suspended.
From the lineout after the penalty, Sacramento seemed to have a sure try, but Brewer knock on in the try zone. However, that error occurred under penalty advantage, so Sacramento immediately had another chance. That chance was strengthened as Tom Coolican was given a yellow card for collapsing the maul from the lineout. Sacramento choose a scrum and, were awarded a penalty try.
Sacramento was down 2 – 20-22 – with just over 15 minutes to play.
Once again, Sacramento could not handle the restart. San Francisco won a penalty and opted to give Ferris the difficult penalty goal attempt. It was no good, but Sam Finau made a good break shortly thereafter keeping them on the attack. Sacramento committed another penalty, this one at the breakdown, and Talapusi made the penalty goal. With just over 10 to play, San Francisco was up 5.
It was San Francisco’s turn to struggle with the restart. Sacramento was immediately on the attack in San Francisco territory. Olive Kilifi scored a short-range try and several strong phases following a lineout. With the conversion, Sacramento was in the lead 27-25.
San Francisco had a lineout 20 meters out, but Orene Ai’i knocked the ball on in the first phase. When Sacramento got back into San Francisco’s half, Bennett made a long-distance drop goal.
The visitors had one last gasp on attack, but the ball was knocked on. Bennett kicked long and Anderson looked to counter, but Sacramento stole the ball at the breakdown and Chris Saint made a good pass to put Ryan Keowler into space. Koewler scored the last try of an entertaining match, and Bergamasco converted the try to draw a line under the Sacramento comeback.
Final score: Sacramento 37-25 San Francisco.
1) Val Lee-Lo 2) Ray Barkwill 3) Olive Kilifi 4) Robert Meeson 5) Siona Sina 6) Kyle Sumsion 7) John Quill 8) Sione Latu 9) Jope Motokana 10) Harry Bennett 11) Ryan Thompson 12) Alipate Takiveikata 13) Mirco Bergamasco 14) Rashad Harbor 15) Garrett Brewer 16) Josh Inong 17) Toke Kefu 18) Kali Tavake 19) Rich Knight 20) Langilangi Haupeakui 21) Chris Saint 22) Nemia Qoro 23) Ryan Keowler
1) Maka Tameilau 2) Tom Coolican 3) Patrick Latu 4) Nick Grass 5) Siaosi Mahoni 6) Sam Finau 7) Alec Gletzer 8) Siupeli Sakalia 9) Michael Reid 10) Volney Rouse 11) Jack O’Hara 12) Martini Talapusi 13) Nick Blevins 14) Michael Haley 15) Jake Anderson 16) Jay Finau 17) Niko Lofohea 18) Fancy Namulauuli 19) Isaac Helu 20) Junior Helu 21) Devereaux Ferris 22) Orene Ai’i 23) Charles Mateo
Replay of the match is available here.
Next up for Sacramento is a trip down to San Diego. San Francisco hosts Denver next weekend.