Sunday, April 17, 2016

Recap: Sacramento Rally To Beat San Francisco

Photo: David Barpal
By Derek Sagehorn

Coming from behind Sacramento used a couple of late tries to defeat San Francisco 37-25. Both teams played a solid level of rugby but in the end it was small mistakes from San Francisco that cost them the match while Sacramento did well to capitalize on those mistakes.

The scoring opened when Alec Gletzer of San Francisco was called for hands in front of his own posts. Mirco Bergamesco slotted an easy penalty for Sacramento. San Francisco gained possession after the kickoff and after a brief exchange, drove down the field with a series of hard running pick and jams. Gletzer picked up from five meters out and reached over through several tacklers to score the opening try for San Francisco.

Sacramento camped out in front of San Francisco’s right corner and milked several penalties. They opted for the scrum, earned another penalty and opted to scrum again. Eventually they worked the ball out and off a blindside scamper Jope Motokana scored.

Take the jump to read more.

Sacramento did well to disrupt a lot of San Francisco’s line out possession. Thirty minutes in, Sacramento turned over a ball and Garrett Brewer chipped ahead, collected and scored as a very partisan home crowd went wild.

San Francisco received possession in Sacramento’s half and had a large overlap on the left hand side. Jake Anderson backed himself but was forced into touch by Rashad Harbor and Bergamesco. San Francisco’s centers, however, started to find their rhythm. Nick Blevins broke several tackles and got in behind the defensive line. After several phases, Pate Takiveikata found a half gap to

The heat took its toll towards the end of the first half and handling suffered. Both teams must have been glad to get a breather, score 17-13. The first half featured four lead changes.

San Francisco opened the second half with crisp passing and angles. Jake Anderson took a long cut out pass, drew the defender and put Jack O’Hara into space. He kicked ahead but could not collect. San Francisco center took a pass on the ensuing phase, wrong stepped the defender and dished to replacement Orene Ai’i

Sacramento responded by playing a tight, territorial game. They opted to scrum and pushed up against the line several times. When the ball finally got out to the backs, a few errant passes deprived the home team from piercing the line. After ten minutes defending their five meter line, San Francisco regained possession and cleared their lines.

Nick Grass quickly erred by striking a player on the bottom of an ensuing pile. He was sent off for ten and Sacramento kicked for touch to resume applying pressure to San Francisco. Off the ensuing lineout and drive, Sacramento moved wide to the right but lost an easy try for failure to place the ball cleanly. The ball was brought back to the left side for a penalty for pulling down the maul. San Francisco hooker Coolican was shown yellow for the act and Sacramento opted for the scrum. Down two men, Sacramento pushed over and were rewarded a penalty try for their efforts.

Off the kickoff, San Francisco was awarded a penalty but Ai’I kick was off. San Francisco received the 22 dropout and Sam Finau broke on a blazing run finally dishing out to Alec Gletzer. Sacramento was dinged from coming in the side and Ai’I gave a little breathing room by slotting a kick to make the score 25-20.

Sacramento got the ball back and earned a penalty from San Francisco’s offsides. They kicked for the corner and captain John Quill moved the ball underneath the posts. After several picks, Ollie Killifi stormed over a try. Bergamesco converted easily and Sacramento led 27-25 with ten minutes left.

Chasing the game, San Francisco squashed several opportunities with handling errors. Sacramento opted to kick each time they regained possession in order to keep San Francisco pinned back. After a lineout maul broke down, Harry Bennett dropped a goal from the 22 meter mark to push the score 30-25 Sacramento. In the next passage of play, Jake Anderson took a deep kick and opted counter-attack. He was quickly turned over and Sacramento spotted a massive overload and Jesuit alum Ryan Koewler waltzed into the corner. Bergamesco slotted the conversion, 37-25, ending the match.


  1. Fantastic ending from an excitement and watchability standpoint. Does anyone have an idea as to how many people were at the match?

  2. Garrett Brewer's one-handed pickup was the play of the game fore me. That was great. And I just re-read that. If Bender made that play, then he played ALOT of rugby across the world this weekend!

  3. Harry Bennett's drop goal was much further than from the 22... It was from around the 10m and from the sideline. Beauty of a kick.

  4. I was there, only the west stand and VIP areas were open, but it looks like they sold most of it.
    For the RepublicFC soccer games they're usually in the evening to beat the heat but those guys were getting 80+ degrees all game, well done to them.
    Had a blast, looking forward to more!

  5. Any chance of having the starting lineups and subsequent reserves in the write-ups?