The class and enormity of the Santa Monica Rugby Club was on full display yesterday with a full day of rugby at the Dolphin Pit.
The day opened with a full slate of youth games against Belmont Shore and the young Dolphins swept their southern neighbor in all of their games. Like their older counterparts the youth teams rely on speed and tenacious defense.
The Fighting Kelp then took on the Dead Rabbits from San Bernardino County. The Kelp jumped out to an early 7-5 lead in the first half. They looked primed to take home the win, but an unfortunate red card midway through the second half left the team a man down. Even with the man down the Kelp scored twice in quick succession to take a commanding lead. The Dead Rabbits weren’t ready to give up however and scored three tries in the games final 20 minutes to seal the victory.
The Barracuda were next to take the pitch and came out against a very young, but very skilled Belmont Shore squad. In a fast paced, hard hitting preview of the days final matchup captain Kelly Serfoss scored two first half tries and the ‘Cudda never trailed in route to a 24-12 victory.
By the time three o’clock rolled around the partisan Dolphin crowd had swelled to around 230 and there was a definite buzz in the air in anticipation for one of the top matches in North America this season. The game lived up to the hype and was a fast, physical encounter that left players from both teams battered and bruised.
Santa Monica got on the board first when flyhalf, Michael Hobbs kicked a penalty at the 6th and 15th minutes, 6-0. The Dolphins rarely had the ball in the first half, and Belmont battered the Monica defenses time and time again. Belmont finally broke the ramparts and scored a try at the 20 minute mark, 6-7. A Belmont penalty at the 25 minute mark signaled the end of the scoring in the first stanza, 6-10. The Dolphins were down, but not out and only being down 4 points after having limited possession and poor field position felt pretty good about their chances in the second half.
The second half started with an odd scene, that most spectators claimed to have never seen. Following the second half restart the Belmont Shore prop ended up with the ball in hand. He was tackled and in the process of the tackle fell onto the ball. There was a large bang and when he went to place the ball, it was revealed that the ball had popped.
Hobbs opened the scoring five minutes into the second half when he kicked his third penalty goal of the game, 9-10. Five minutes later tempers flared when former Dolphin Eddie McKenna tipped #8 Ken Aseme in a tackle and dumped him head first into the Webster turf. The Dolphins played the advantage and put the ball through the hands to wing Sean Pypers who touched down in the corner, 14-10. McKenna was given a red card for his actions, and it looked like the Dolphins would have a man advantage for the rest of the game. Five minutes later though, Aseme was carded for a shoulder charge and the advantage was lost for the next 10 minutes.
Belmont reconvened their assault on Dolphin line and in the 70th minute were rewarded with a well earned try in the corner, 14-15. Hobbs kicked off and the Dolphins defense harangued the Shore assault. Flustered a Belmont ballcarrier bobbled a ball and Hobbs reading the play ran through the attempted pass, picking it off and easily touched down under the posts, 21-15.
The Dolphin defense continued to harry the Belmont offense and at the 80 minute mark another Belmont pass went askew. Captain Ali Ross was there to collect the ball and glide into the try zone. The conversion was missed and while time seemed to be up the referee deemed there to be some injury time, so play went on, 26-15.
Eight minutes into injury time, another Belmont assault ended in a scoring chance for the visitors. After a multitude of penalties the visitors finally snuck the ball into the corner for the score, and closed the gap to 26-22. The game continued, and finally a full 10 minutes into injury time the final hooter blew to signal a sixth consecutive Dolphin victory.
Santa Monica- 26
Tries- Hobbs, Pypers, Ross
Penalties- Hobbs 3
Belmont Shore- 22
1- Flake, Jon (Seemen @ 45); 2- Hill, Daniel (King @ 40); 3- Silverman, Ross; 4-Williams, Sion (Winter @ 40); 5-Davis (Lee @ 79); 6- Killefer, Joe (Regal @30; Martini @ 65); 7-Manavian, Taylor; 8-Aseme, Ken (Wooley, Andrew); 9-Carpio, Danny (Ramos @ 50); 10-Hobbs, Michael; 11- Pypers, Sean; 12-Gibbon, Alan; 13-Morales, Shane; 14-Cremin, Padraig; 15-Ross, Ali ©