Shock at Treasure Island

One look at the rosters for the San Francisco Golden Gate and Old 
Puget Sound Beach rugby clubs indicated a mouth watering clash was in
store when the teams met in San Francisco on Saturday. Andrew 
Durutalo, Miles Craigwell, Nicholas Hawkins, Brendan O'Meara, Jone 
Naqica...and those guys weren't even starting. Both teams were stacked 
with high quality players and observers were eagerly waiting for an 
important early season game.


The game started with the opposing out halves Russell Armstrong of 
OPSB and Volney Rouse of SFGG trading early penalty kicks, before
 Filimoni Botitu hit for OPSB's first try.  Armstrong converted for the 
10-3 lead for the visitors. SFGG hit back with a John Thomas 
unconverted try, but with thirty minutes gone, a goal line stand by
 OPSB was followed by a Kellen Gordon interception and try for OPSB,
 Armstrong again converted.


OPSB suffered a serious blow last week, 
losing influential fullback Ishmeli Davita to a broken collarbone, but 
the team had an able replacement ready in Mike Palefau, fresh off his
 exploits in the Hong Kong and Tokyo Sevens. With halftime approaching, 
Palefau crossed the try-line for another OPSB try, pushing the score
 to 22-8. Despite SFGG being down to 14 men due to a red card being
issued for a dump tackle, the team rallied for another try by Thomas
 before the half, and the Volney Rouse conversion narrowed the gap to 22-15.


SFGG started the second half the same as they finished the first,
scoring an early try, credited to Mose Timoteo, and the game was all
 tied up at 22-22. But the next twenty minutes belonged to OPSB, 
notching four tries in a torrid span that had the team firmly in the 
driver's seat.  Second row Aaron Fry, scrumhalf Emosi Vucago, flanker 
Kellen Gordon with his second, and Miles Craigwell all notched tries 
for OPSB, and three Armstrong conversions had OPSB ahead 53-22. As
 time was winding down, SFGG hit for two tries courtesy of Paula 
Fukofuka and Tom Rooke, bracketing a try for OPSB.


At a final score of
 36-60, the teams narrowly missed breaking a hundred points on the day.
 San Francisco's Paul Keeler was philosophical after the game "We made
some mistakes early, we gave up some soft tries and there was the game 
really. Ultimately we try to turn our defense into attack and it is 
hard to do that against a team that is good at disrupting breaks.  You 
learn more from your defeats than your wins...we got away with some 
sloppy play recently and still won and we have learned the hard lesson
that we are beatable."


OPSB's Evan Haigh said "One of the biggest things we wanted to improve
 on from last week was the ability to execute when we made breaks and
 that was the big piece that allowed us to score points."  


Despite the
 score-line, Haigh says the Golden Gate defense was solid and most of his side's points came from
 turnover ball and shifting the point of attack....


"Big for us today among 
others were the front row who laid a good platform that enabled us to 
have go-forward ball."  The two teams will meet again in the last week
 of the regular season in what promises to be another intriguing