The Dolphins got off to a fast start and held on in the end to down old foes OMBAC rugby club in SCRFU Week 7 action.
The Dolphins got on the board in the first minute on a drop goal from starting flyhalf, Phil Howard. The Dolphins had kicked off deep into the OMBAC end. OMBAC countered with a kick, which they had taken back inside their 22m line, meaning a SMRC lineout 20 meters from the line. From the lineout the ball went to scrumhalf Danny Carpio, and then onto Howard who coolly slotted the kick.
SMRC kept the pressure on after a long Howard break during their second possession of the game. OMBAC was penalized for being off sides and the penalty kick was good. In the ninth minute Howard added a second penalty after one of the more impressive series of the game. The Dolphin forwards got the ball near the 10 meter line and mauled the ball 35 meters to the 5 before OMBAC was penalized.
At the 10th minute an errant OMBAC pass was scooped up near midfield by fullback Loa Milford. Milford streaked down the sideline unmolested. Howards conversion was wide. “I knew that we needed to get off to a fast start, but I could have never imagined jumping out to a 14 point lead,” quipped Head Coach Doug Bratcher.
Lady Luck dealt the Dolphins a cruel blow shortly after the Milford try when Howard pulled up lame. Trainer Amy Fee advised Howard to call it a day, but Howard wanted a few minutes to make that decision. So the Dolphins continued on for the next 5 minutes a man down, while Howard evaluated his options. Even a man down things continued to go the way of the home side. Wing, Nick Regas found himself at midfield and with a little space and made the most of it juking and jiving his way to paydirt. Reserve Padraig Cremin, on for Howard, converted the try and midway through the first half the Dolphins were up 21-0.
OMBAC were down but not out. “They’re obviously a good side,” said Bratcher. “We always knew that they would get back into the game.” The comeback started at the 30th minute with a penalty kick from flyhalf Zac Pangelinan. A converted try, after sustained pressure in the Dolphin half, at halftime brought the score to 21-10.
“Thus far this season we haven’t started the second half well. At halftime I really drove home the point that we had to be the first team to score.” The Dolphins headed the coaches warning scoring the first two tries of the second half to extend their lead to 33-10. Flanker Eddie McKenna finished a driving maul from a lineout to score the first. Eight man Ken Aseme scored the second after picking the ball out of the back of a Dolphin scrum and racing 35 meters to score. Cremin converted one of two tries.
OMBAC refused to say die, and kept possession for much of the second half, and 60% for the game. At the sixty minute mark OMBAC scored on a pick and drive from the forwards. “OMBAC did a good job in the second half of controlling the ball and playing their game. I counted at least 15 phases when they scored their first try of the second half.”
OMBAC scored again shortly after the kick off when former Eagle flanker, Jarvis Albury found a sliver of space on the sideline and made Santa Monica pay for their defensive lapse to close the deficit to 33-20.
“We were still up two scores, with about 13 minutes to go. I was feeling pretty good about our chances, as long as we kept everyone out of the sin bin.” Unfortunately for Bratcher, McKenna didn’t find his way through the gate in a tackle, and referee Nick Rincono found his way into the pocket for a yellow card. “In my eyes, this was the worst case scenario.”
Once again OMBAC fired up, maintained possession and found their way into the Santa Monica end. Eventually, Pangelinan made SMRC pay for their sins when he dotted down and converted to bring the game to within 6 points. While Bratcher sweated it out on the sideline, the Dolphins buckled down and closed out the game with several long runs.
“We are an improving rugby team. Today at times we played some of the best rugby that we’ve played all season, but we are still turning the ball over too much. I think that if we start limiting our turnovers, that we could be a real threat, but that’s a big if.”
Score: SMRC 33 – OMBAC 27
Tries: SMRC-Aseme, McKenna, Milford, Regas; OMBAC- Albury, unknown 2, Pangelinan
Conversions: SMRC- Cremin 2; OMBAC – Pangelinan 2
Penalties: SMRC – Howard 2; OMBAC – Pangelinan
Drop goals: SMRC – Howard
SMRC: 1- Guerra (cpt), 2- King, 3- Knox (Turner 30), 4- Houlihan (Reibli 70), 5- Davis (Scott 43), 6- Winter (Cooper 55), 7- McKenna, 8- Aseme, 9- Carpio, 10- Howard (Cremin 20), 11- Strangeway (Branham 60), 12- Killefer (Serfoss 65), 13- Ross, 14- Regas, 15- Milford