Finishing off the club day festivities the Santa Monica Dolphins faced a resurgent Huntington Beach Unicorn squad coming off consecutive wins. The Dolphins knew that this was a game that they had to win to stay within striking distance of frontrunners Belmont Shore and OMBAC in the standings.
The Dolphins struck early and controlled much of the game. Hooker Dominic Riebli started the scoring in the 9th minute. After a long linebreak the ball swung across the field and found Riebli who’d stayed home on the wing, fullback Padraig Cremin converted.
While prop Robert Knox didn’t actually put the ball down in the try zone, he was responsible for the next two tries that the Dolphins scored. At the 13th and 18th minutes Knox took the ball against the head in the scrums and both times wing Nick Regas found himself in space to finish the play. Cremin converted both to push the score to 21-0.
Center Joe Killefer made a long break at the 30-minute mark. Killerfer gouged the defense for about 50 meters before being thudded hard to the Webster turf. The support got there and gave scrumhalf Danny Carpio a quick clean ball to work with, and decided to do the hard work himself burrowing across the line to ensure the Dolphins a bonus point. The score at the break was 26-0.
“We had a decent half,” commented head coach Doug Bratcher. “We left some points out there when the last pass didn’t connect. We need to improve over the next few weeks and finishing our opportunities.”
The second half opened and it was the Dolphins who struck first after sustaining some Unicorn pressure. Ten minutes into the second stanza flyhalf Ali Ross, found a crease near the 22 meter line and was able to shake the fullback before touching down under the posts. Cremin’s conversion was good, 33-0.
Second row Zac Winter scored the Dolphins 6th try of the day with about 20 minutes remaining in the game. Winter carried several Beach defenders into try zone before touching down.
Shortly after the Winter try, Hunting Beach were able to move the ball into Dolphin territory and were rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts, 38-3. One of the only Unicorn line breaks of the day followed their penalty kick, but the Dolphin defense stood firm and caused a knock on resulting in a 5 meter scrum.
“I wanted to see the backs run the ball out of their own end as opposed to play it safe and kick it out, so I’ll take responsibility for the Unicorns lone try,” Bratcher said. From the scrum the ball went to Ross, Ross was tackled hard and the ball squirted free. The Unicorns were quick to scoop up the ball and fall over the line. The conversion was true, 38-10.
The Dolphin offense finally put their foot down and retook control of the game. For the remainder of the game, the home side kept the visitor on the back foot and hammered the ball down the field, but was unable to connect on the final pass that would get them into the Promised Land. A lineout as time expired proved to be the magic elixir. The forwards mauled the ball toward the line and Bud Light Man-of-the-Match, flanker Taylor Manavian, flopped over the line for the games final score. Cremin’s conversion was good.
“It will be interesting to go back and watch the tape from the game. I know that we still have a long way to go to achieve our goals, but for the most part we really imposed out will on them today,” said Bratcher. “To win that game the way that we did with a number of guys sidelined due to injury was great.”