A small squad of 50 or so Dolphins traveled to Las Vegas for three matches on Saturday. Early start times, player unavailability, cool temperatures, and strong winds added to the Dolphins woes as the club went 0-3 for the day.
Starting at 10:00 a.m. and with several players driving up the morning of the game, the Barracuda were susceptible to get off to a slow start, but captain Ray Lavoie gave flyhalf Alex Rylance an early shot at goal to give the visitors the early 3-0 lead. The 3-0 lead held into halftime despite the Barracuda efforts to extend the advantage; late in the half Rylance (nursing a sprained ankle) made a clean break, but couldn’t shake the last defender getting pulled down just before the line.
The second half started with another long line break, this time scrumhalf Tom Cella took a half gap and sprinted into open space only to be dragged down without scoring. The home team said enough is enough and were able to make a break of their own midway through the second half scoring under the posts, 3-7.
With time winding down, center Brian LaScalla made a break from midfield. The Vegas wing caught him as his got to the line, and was able to jostle the ball free before LaScalla became the game’s hero. The final score was 3-7, but the two’s made up of a large contingent of players stepping up from the third side for the first time this season played outstanding rugby.
Following the game, the majority of the Barracuda squad traveled 5 minutes to the Sin City Irish pitch to play the SCRFU DIII fixture. The Fighting Kelp added a few of fresh players for there tussle with the top of the table hosts. The home team were able to secure a victory, but the Kelp made it difficult from the first minute through the 80th. The Kelp have, by their own admission, struggled since moving up from DIV last season, but the future of the program looks bright, and as the current crop of Kelp grow and mature as rugby players they are sure to buoy the club for the foreseeable future.
The Dolphins kicked off at noon, and were looking down the business end of a very large, physical Vegas side. The gale force wind was blowing across the field not providing an advantage to either side. The Dolphins kicked off and were able to keep the Blackjacks pinned in their own end. After several phases prop Keaton Nasser was able to squeeze he and his mustache through two defenders and touch down just to the right of the goal posts. Flyhalf Brian O’Shea’s conversion was true, 7-0. O’Shea added a penalty kick in the 15th minute to extend the Dolphins lead, 10-0.
Vegas snapped to and started playing, driving deep into the Dolphin end. A smashing run from the Vegas openside flanker ended with him knocking the ball on in goal giving the Dolphins a respite and a 5 meter scrum. On the ensuing scrum the hooked ball bounced off a Dolphin leg and back to the Vegas side. Given a second chance the Vegas forwards made no mistake in grounding the ball, 10-5. A Vegas penalty moments later brought them closer, 10-8.
In the 39th minute, playing a man down the Vegas offense struck again and were able to score a go ahead try, 10-13. The referee allowed the kickoff and O’Shea kicked deep into Vegas territory. Vegas kicked the ball back up field and wing Shane Morales took the ball looking to counterattack. Morales found lock Ien Ashcroft-Leigh who rumbled, stumbled and bumbled 60 meters before getting tackled just short of the line. The ball was recycled and found center Kelley Serfoss who easily scooted across the line, 17-13 (halftime).
The second half opened with a Dolphin turnover deep in their own end, which Vegas turned into 5 points, 17-18. Having played defense for much of the first half, O’Shea rallied the offense and kept the Blackjacks on their heels and pinned in their own end for the next 30 minutes. During that time wing Chris Clay and Morales both touched town (53rd minute and 65th minute) and O’Shea added the extras give the Dolphins a 31-18 lead.
Vegas was down but not out, and after yellow cards were awarded to both teams within a minute of each other the home side found more room with only 14 men on the field. Another smashing run up the middle of the field with only 10 minutes to play left captain Dominic Riebli with a broken collar bone, and lead Vegas try on the outside, 31-25.
The try and the loss of the Dolphins captain pricked up the tail feathers of the homeside. Another Vegas try at the 75 minute mark brought the Blackjacks to within a point at 31-30, and gave them hope for an improbable comeback.
With time ticking away several Vegas scoring efforts were repelled close to the line, and a certain try was held up across the line. Eventually though the homeside were able to sneak the ball over the line breaking hearts all across the Westside of Los Angeles, 31-37.
Tries: Clay, Morales, Nasser, Serfoss
1) Nasser, Keaton (Knox-77); 2) King, Pat; 3) Seeman, Bart (Scott-66); 4) Bercovicci, Alex (Woolley-55); 5) Ashcroft-Leigh, Ien; 6) Winter, Zac; 7) Kelley, Chris; 8) Riebli, Dom (Manavian-70); 9) Carpio, Danny; 10) O’Shea, Brian; 11) Clay, Chris; 12) Serfoss, Kelly 13) Martini, David: 14) Morales, Shane (Strangeway-75); 15) Cooley, Pierce