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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sacramento Get Big Win Over San Francisco

Photo: Connie Hatfield
Building off their competitive loss to Denver last weekend the Sacramento Express picked up their second win of the season, a 43-19 win over rivals San Francisco. Having endured a tough start to the season and a month long layoff in June the Express now look rejuvenated and like a team that can make a lot of noise in the second half of the season. Additionally, the return of Harry Bennett to full health has been a major positive to the team as has the confidence gained from Langilangi Haupeakui's experience with the Eagles.

Harry Bennett's return was felt early as Sacramento pressed near the try line. At the three minute mark the team even had a shout for a try but they were ruled to be held up. However, off the scrum they kept going and after a run by recent Eagle Langilangi Haupeakui it was the hooker, Cam Falcon, that dived over for the try. Mirco Bergamasco would add the extra points and Sacramento would lead 7-0. For a team that had nearly a month off and endured a less than stellar start to the season it was the exact way they wanted to come out.

Take the jump to read more.

Credit to San Francisco as they immediately came back the other way and put pressure on Sacramento. Like the Express they used their forwards to power their way close to the line, earning penalties in the process. However, the final execution let the Rush down as an overthrown five meter line out landed in the hands of Haupeakui who made a big break. From there it was a series of offloads and passes as the ball moved back and forth across the pitch into the hands of Cody Jerabek for the try. Certainly when the year is over that is a try of the year candidate. With just 11 minutes played Sacramento led 12-0.

San Francisco didn't look poor early on with the exception of the overthrown line out, they simply didn't have much of the ball. David Tameilau was a leader in the match delivering several big hits but Sacramento were too focused and did well to capitalize on their chances.  The perfect example of that came roughly 20 minutes into the match. The Rush tried to make a couple of flashy passes and it led to a knock-on. Playing on the ball was quickly moved to Haupeakui who raced past the defense for his team's third try. The conversion was good and Sacramento were fully in charge at 19-0. Just four minute later the Express would use their forwards to grab a fourth try, this time through captain Kyle Sumsion.

Before things could get better for the Rush it got worse as Mils Muliaina was forced from the match with an injury. Still, San Francisco would eventually get things going. After spending some time in the Sacramento end they caught a break when Jerabek was sent to the bin. With a man advantage the Rush would use their forwards to create space for David Tameilau to receive a pass and go in for the score. Volney Rouse would make the conversion making the score 26-7.

San Francisco then grabbed their second score off the restart. Claiming the ball they moved the ball quickly across the pitch and when Orene Ai'i saw that no one was home on defense for the Express he took the ball quickly out of the ruck to cross over. Like that San Francisco were back in it at 26-12.

The Rush weren't done scoring before the half either. Off a scrum the ball came out to Rouse who passed to Ai'i, who found the supporting Bill Fukokuka for the try. Rouse would make the conversion and the Rush would only trail 26-19 at halftime.

With the momentum on the side of San Francisco entering the second half the Express put all questions to doubt with an early try. Once again it was Haupeakui that would find himself in the center of the action. Off a big push in the scrum the space opened up for Haupeakui as he slipped past a couple of defenders to go in for the score.

After an furious 50 minutes things dropped off a bit as each team was held off the score sheet minus a Bergmasco penalty. Of the two teams during this stretch San Francisco had the better chances and more of the ball but it was the small things--lots of knock-ons--that stopped them from getting on the board again.

The last score of the match came as Sacramento spent a good five minutes pushing for the try line. After a number of penalties on San Francisco referee Derek Summers finally had enough and called a penalty try.

In the end it was a solid win for Sacramento. They should a rejuvenated defensive effort but even more importantly they were finally able to put points up on the board. It's too late from them to finish as a contender but they can play spoiler the rest of the season and build for next year. The same goes for San Francisco. They may have dropped the match and given up a lot of points once again but they are vastly improved from earlier in the year.

Sacramento

Tries: Falcon, Jerabek, Haupeakui (2), Sumsion, Penalty
Conversions: Bergamasco (5)
Penalty: Bergamasco

San Francisco

Tries: Tameilau, Ai'i, Fukofuka
Conversions: Rouse (2)

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