Santa Monica traveled down to San Diego to take on OMBAC in week 5 of the Pacific Rugby Premiership. It proved to be a tough day at the office for the Dolphins as early missed opportunities put them behind the 8-ball and left them chasing the game. Ultimately, time ran out on the visitors as they fell 26-29.
The hosts got on the board first via a Zach Pangelinan penalty kick just 5 minutes into the game. Santa Monica quickly answered back as, from a lineout at midfield, flyhalf Harry Bennett split his opposite number, and was into the second level with only the fullback to beat. Bennett drew his man and popped the ball to scrumhalf Charlie Purdon, who took it the rest of the way. Bennett hit the easy conversion. 7-3 Santa Monica.
At the 15-minute mark, the Dolphins received a penalty for hands-in. OMBAC kicked to the right corner inside the attacking 22. From the lineout they drove the ball to the 5-meter line before the maul collapsed. Scrumhalf Brendan Purcell recycled the ball and it found its way to Pangelinan, who stepped his man and scored unmolested on the left wing. He missed the extras. 7-8 OMBAC.
On the next kick-off, the hosts attempted to run out of their own end but threw a forward pass. From the scrum, 8-man Ken Aseme popped to scrumhalf Purdon moving down the right flank. Purdon put in a nice chip kick that alluded the OMBAC defense near their goal line. Unfortunately, Aseme couldn’t cleanly field the bouncing ball and knocked-on in-goal. Undeterred, the Dolphins got the ball back in at the attacking 5-meter on another OMBAC knock-on. From open play on the right side, hooker Philip Lydeard tried to pass to wing Sean Pypers on the short side but missed the connection, giving OMBAC another reprieve.
The hosts kicked to midfield and then won the ensuing lineout. They hit wide along the left sideline and into the opposing half. The Dolphin defense proved stout as they shunted several midfield runs. OMBAC flyhalf Yoshio Kimishima then put in a grubber out to the right side. WIng Ian Denham collected the ball and scored in the corner. Pangelinan missed the conversion. 7-13 OMBAC.
Said Santa Monica Head Coach Greg Commins, “Very frustrating to play solid defense for so many phases and then to just give it away because out sweeper came up into the line. Obviously a smart play by their 10.”
The Dolphins would end of the half on a positive note as, after an OMBAC penalty for not releasing the tackled player, Bennett slotted a penalty kick from 30 meters out. 10-13 OMBAC with 40 minutes gone.
Santa Monica tied the game at 13 just five minutes into the second stanza from another Bennett kick. Pangelinan responded with a kick of his own from 40 meters to put the hosts back on top.
OMBAC scored again after sustained pressure along the right sideline forced the Dolphins defense to contract. Though Santa Monica held along the fringes, they ran out of defenders once the ball swung to the opposite sideline, where wing Orin Catrett scored. 13-21 OMBAC.
Flyhalf Bennett brought his team back to within one score at the 65 minute mark by slotting a penalty from 40 meters out. The Dolphins immediately gave the points back on the next kick-off as an attempt to run out of their own end resulted in a turnover and eventual penalty for offsides. 16-24 OMBAC going into the final quarter.
Santa Monica appeared to answer back on the following series. After fielding the restart, OMBAC went on the attack. A Kimishima chip-kick at midfield traveled too far and into the arms of Dolphins flanker Taylor Manavian. He took the tackle and then Purdon quickly recycled to lock Zac Winter. Winter hit the gainline hard and drew two tacklers. The ball then went out to replacement wing Philip Osbourne, who found a gap and headed toward the posts. As two OMBAC defenders convened on Osbourne, he attempted to offload to replacement flanker Patrick Roberts. The ball seemed to have been deflected by an OMBAC defender and bounced up to 8-man Aseme. He jogged the ball into the try zone, checking to see if the pass was legal. Unfortunately, the side judge and referee ruled that Osbourne’s pass went forward; no try was awarded.
From that point, OMBAC powered their way down field and eventually scored in the right corner via Pangelinan. He failed to convert his own try. 16-29 OMBAC with 12 minutes to play.
Things looked grim as the hosts took the restart and worked their way back into the attacking zone. Former Eagles lock Brian Doyle did the yeoman’s work as he broke through the midfield and ran to the 5-meter line before getting tackled by fullback Martial Chaput. OMBAC continued to pound the ball in tight with a series of pick-and-drives. Again, the Dolphins held strong and earned a turnover on a solid tackle by prop Rob Cleere. Knowing the urgency of the situation, Santa Monica literally ran out of their own endzone. Wing Pyper received a high tackle just outside of his own line. Flyhalf Bennett took a quick tap and kicked long. The ball fortuitously bounced back toward the chasers and into the arms of Purdon. He quickly popped to Bennett on his hip and the Aussie 10 ran the rest of the way for a scintillating 95-meter try. He hit the conversion and brought his team back to within a try at 23-29.
Three minutes later, Bennett hit his fourth penalty on the day; bringing the score to 26-29 with less than 5-minutes to play.
Needing to travel the length of field to at least earn a tie, the Dolphins flung the ball from left-to-right-and-back, working their way up field. An OMBAC penalty at the Santa Monica 10-meter line lead to another quick tap. Bennett threw a short ball to Mitch Raisch at midfield but the center couldn’t hold onto it, knocking on and ending the potential comeback.
“We did well in phases and certainly showed some flair for the dramatic,” said Commins. “However, we just didn’t have enough bullets. We blew the opportunities we had and ran out of time.”
Santa Monica earned another bonus point for the keeping the final score to within 7 points but failed to secure a bonus point try for the first time this season. The Dolphins look to get to .500 at the mid-season mark next week when they travel up to San Francisco to take on SFGG.
Epi Kalemani (Hill – 75)
Zac Winter (Blood/Zuberi – 65)
Van Aarde Pretorius (Roberts – 50)
Taylor Manavian (Zuberi – 72)
Shawn Lee (Osbourne – 15, Blood/Corruth – 68)
Luis de la Torre
Tries: Purdon, Bennett
Penalties: Bennett (4)