A 35 strong continent of Santa Monica players traveled to Las Vegas this weekend to face the Blackjacks. Again, the depth of the club was on display as 10 regular first teamers were unavailable to travel due to injury, illness, and work.
The twos kicked off first and played with the blustery wind in the first half. What should have been a 25 point wind actually turned into a 17 point deficit and a very strongly worded message during halftime. The message was communicated clearly, because in the second stanza the ‘Cudda came out with fire in their bellies and scored 31 points in an injury shortened 20 minute second half. Kudos to the ‘Cudda for securing their 5th victory in succession.
The Dolphins kicked off in the late game and played into the wind in the first half. The home side started strongly and kept the Dolphins pinned in their own end for much of the first 5 minutes. Sticking to the game plan and playing staunch defense kept the Blackjacks at bay and gave the visitors their first scoring chance of the game. In the 8th minute, center Shane Morales, stepped his opposite number and burst into the corner of the try zone. Flyhalf Michael Hobbs kicked the difficult sideline conversion into the gale and despite the left upright of the goalposts having blown down, 7-0.
Captain Ali Ross was next to touch down as he juked, jived and weaved his way into the try-zone for the teams second five pointer, Hobbs conversion was good, 14-0. Morales kept the pressure near the 20 minute mark as he streaked down the right sideline and touched down for his second score of the period, 19-0. Hobbs again added the extras, 26-0.
In the 27th minute a Ross break ended in a nasty tip tackle that resulted in the Vegas player being red carded. Already up three tries, and with the man advantage wing Dave Martini caught a Morales pass at full pace and out gassed the ‘Jacks to the line. Seemingly with the game in hand, the Dolphins then let their foot off the gas, several missed tackles resulted in a Vegas try near half time, 26-5.
The second half started with a quick try from a rampaging vice-captain Ken Aseme. Aseme handed off two would be tacklers and stepped another enroute to pay dirt. Hobbs added the extras, 33-5. Vegas scored the next 3 tries in a 15 minute spell that saw the Dolphins completely asleep at the wheel. The first try was from a rumbling prop that bashed his way under the posts for the easy score at the 46 minute mark. A 50/50 pass deep in the Dolphins own end resulted in the next Blackjack score, 33-17.
With visions of last years last second defeat dancing in several heads, including this writers, the Dolphins found themselves deep in their own territory again with a 5 meter scrum. The scrum platform was solid and reserve scrum half Pierce Cooley was able to get off a box kick from the base. The wind took the ball and the routine kicked turned into an unfortunate error as it sailed over the defenses heads, and then bounded 45 meters through the back of the try zone to give Vegas a 5 meter scrum (the ball traveled more than 100 wind aided meters). Vegas capitalized on the Dolphin miscue and scored just past the 60 minute mark to get the deficit to within two scores, 33-24.
The Dolphins finally got the visions of their post match antics out of their heads and decided to finish the match. Getting back into their pattern of play reserve wing Chinadu Okolu was able to outpace his opposite number into the corner for the Dolphins 6th try of the match, 38-24. Maintaining control through the last quarter of the match, the forwards scored the games last try when Aseme touched down a rolling maul. Center Alan Gibbon kicked the conversion to stretch the lead to 45-24.
Tries: Aseme 2, Martini, Morales 2, Okolu
Conversions: Hobbs 4/5; Ross 0/1; Gibbon 1/1
Las Vegas- 24
1- Hill, Daniel; 2-King, Pat; 3-Flake, Jon; 4-Winter, Zac (Cohen @ 45); 5-Williams, Sion; 6-Wooley, AJ; 7- Regal, Brian (Manavian @ 60); 8-Aseme, Ken; 9-Carpio, Danny (Cooley @ 55); 10-Hobbs, Michael (Okolu @ 55); 11-Lee, Shawn (LaScalla @ 65); 12-Gibbon, Alan; 13-Morales, Shane; 14-Martini, David; 15-Ross, Ali ©