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Monday, May 9, 2016

Patient San Diego Beats San Francisco

Photo: Connie Hatfield
By Derek Sagehorn

San Diego pulled away from a spirited San Francisco side in the last 15 minutes Sunday to win 46-33 at Boxer Stadium. The visitors got on the board first with a Kurt Morath penalty in the third minute. Just afterwards, San Francisco debutant Alex Bowman exited with an injury. San Francisco, lacking much cover at lock, put David Tameilau in the engine room, bumped Jacob Finau to flanker and put Codi Jones at hooker. The young Cal Maritime product performed well in the coalface and the loose.

Two minutes later, San Diego scored the first try of the match when Tom Bliss attacked the blind off of a scrum. He laid down a grubber, which a San Francisco defender tried to trap, but Bliss played the ball off his foot on the bounce and collected to score a try. Morath made a corner conversion and San Diego was suddenly up 10-0. San Francisco responded with several good phases and Michael Reid snuck over for a responding try after a quick tap. Morath slotted two more long penalties due to SF infractions to bring the score to 16-7. San Diego had the opportunity to blow the game open with a large overlap inside SF’s 22, but Tim Barford mishandled an easy pass.

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San Francisco began to create phases with a little more urgency in the ensuing minutes. San Diego cynically tried to restrain this pace by lying on the ball. Referee Kurt Weaver pinged them once, and then on the second, carded Tai Tuisamoa. San Francisco immediately kicked to the corner. They set a maul but David Tameilau ran counter, took a pop pass and crashed over the blind side corner for a try. Rouse converted to bring the score to 14-16 San Diego. The southerners responded when Kurt Morath dragged across the line and found a streaking Ryan Matyas to break the line. Matyas offloaded before he met the fullback and two passes found Mikey Te’o for another try.

After the halftime break, San Francisco tried to play wide without having earned it. Phil Mackenzie poached from an isolated runner and Cecil Garber rumbled for a try. San Francisco began to get some go forward and began putting pressure on San Diego, but kept forcing passes or losing promising possession in contact. Those efforts finally clicked when Codi Jones took a short pass off of quick ball to break the line. Volney Rouse vectored in on Jones’ hips and took a soft pass at pace to score. 28-21 SD. San Francisco took possession off the restart and moved forward. After a few phases Orene Ai’I launched a footpass to Iongi. The wing caught it and took the ball to the five meter. After a few desperate attempts. David Tameilau bagged his second try of the day. Rouse converted and drew the game level 28-28.

At this moment, it was anybody’s game. Morath made another a penalty soon after. Even worse San Francisco lost concentration and let a misplayed lineout ball end up in replacement lock Nikola Bursic’s hands. Bursic quickly powered over for gut-punching try. Sam Finau responded with a searing run into San Diego’s 22. Quick hands from replacement prop Maka Tameilau, Codi Jones and Jacob Finau found Iongi with room to score in the corner. Rouse missed the conversion, score 36-33 SD. San Francisco, however, couldn’t lock down their defense. An intentional knock on to prevent a try, leads to Hubert Buydens crossing the white paint seconds later. A Morath conversion and penalty minutes later, seals the deal for San Diego. Final score 46-33.

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