Saturday, May 28, 2016

Second Half Surge Puts San Diego Over Sacramento

At this point in the season San Diego are gaining a reputation as a second half team after another surge put them past Sacramento 44-23 at Torero Stadium. The scoreline doesn't indicate how close the match for most of the 80 minutes and it could have been a completely different story if John Quill wasn't shown a very controversial red card just before halftime and if Sacramento didn't blow a couple of tries with knock-ons.

With the win San Diego move into second place, at least for a day. They face a big match against Denver next week and will need a win in that match if they want to finish first at the end of the season. For Sacramento it's another loss. They did things well once again and had several opportunities but they were haunted once again by knock-ons and simple errors.

Take the jump to read more.
Sacramento were the team to show the initiative early with Robert Meeson making a big run. They did well to put San Diego under early sustained pressure and it paid off with Mirco Bergamasco kicking a penalty with only six minutes players.

San Diego were able to get going but and were able to even the score with a Kalei Konrad only five minutes later. However, they did lose Tom Bliss during that time to a head knock. After the penalty San Diego kept coming. When Sacramento's Garrett Brewer tried to play for territory but there wasn't enough chase on his kick San Diego was there with the counterattack. Mikey Te'o made the initial break before putting in a chip over the top. Tim Stanfill was there to outrace Sacramento for the try and a 10-3 lead.

Neither team could be accused of playing clean rugby in the match with each team concede a number of penalties and errors. San Diego had a lot of trouble in their line out while Sacramento couldn't hold on to the ball. When everything had settled it was Sacramento that would score next with another Bergamasco kick.

San Diego immediately responded. Doing well to gain territory the San Diego forwards went to work and got the ball inches from the line. Charlie Purdon, who had come in for Bliss, was there to take advantage as he simply touched the ball down for the score. The whole sequence started with Taku Ngwenya winning the restart and Andrew Suniula putting in a great pass. Suddenly San Diego found themselves up 17-6.

Credit to Sacramento, they hung tough for most of the match and soon were able to crawl their way back into it. A great heads up play to take the quick line out found the hands of Bergamasco. He made the hard yards before finding Ray Barkwill who found John Quill for the score. That try with another penalty a few minutes later and Sacramento were within one at 17-16.

That's when the match took a twist. Just before halftime Quill was shown a red card from an incident with Charlie Purdon. The replays aren't great but the replays available do suggest that the call was very, very harsh. Regardless, Sacramento now found themselves playing down a man the rest of the way.
Helping Sacramento out on either side of the half were a couple of missed San Diego penalties. Still, Sacramento proved to be their own worst enemy as twice they had clear paths to the try zone only to see the ball knocked on without much defensive pressure. It was the kind of mistakes that drive coaches absolutely crazy and it cost Sacramento any momentum and likely the match.

The scoreboard finally started to click over when Kurt Morath, who came on for Konrad, hit a penalty  to extend the lead. Then it was Taku Ngwenya scoring a highlight reel try that put separation between the two teams. Andrew Suniula would add another try to extend the lead to 34-16 with just over 15 minutes to play.

Sacramento did their best to try and claw back into the match. They used their forwards well and earned a try from Ollie Kilifi but with only 14 men on the pitch they showed signs of fatigue and couldn't find any more scores. A penalty from Morath and a late Stanfill try would finish off the match.

San diego are back at it again next week against Denver while Sacramento have a big month-long layoff. They won't be back in action until June 26th.

San Diego

Tries: Stanfill (2), Bliss, Ngwenya, Suniula
Conversions: Konrad (2), Morath (3)
Penalties: Konrad, Morath (2)


Tries: Quill, Kilifi
Conversions: Bergamasco (2)
Penalties: Bergamasco (2)


  1. Regarding the red card, it was given for actions not visible in the broadcast footage which occurred away from the play.After Quill threw Purdon down on the ground (which you see in the video), Purdon hung on to Quills leg. At that point Quill lowered his knee into Purdon's head and then rose back up and stomped down on Purdon's side/ribs with his boot. It happened right in front of the touch judge who immediately raised his flag and called the referee over when play stopped. This was after an earlier incident between the same two players where Quill pulled Purdon's jersey over his head like in a hockey fight (not sure if that was caught by the cameras).

    Even though Purdon was not completely innocent with the leg grab, given that the referee had warned Quill after the first incident when the touch judge saw the knee and foot stomp the red was all but assured. Can totally see how there was confusion for those watching the broadcast. Really no way to see any of that on the video which was following the ball.

  2. ^ well, sounds like a red card to me.