The New South Wales Cockatoos notched another victory on the second stop of their four city tour, beating the Los Angeles Pacific Rugby Premiership All-Stars 43-7.
On a mild Southern California night, L.A. started strong. With six trainings under their belts, the mixed side of Santa Monica and Belmont Shore players took the opening kick, kept the ball in tight, and methodically worked their way up field. A hands-in penalty against the Cockatoos allowed flyhalf Mathieu Lesgourgues (Santa Monica) to kick to touch inside the attacking 22-meter zone. L.A. won the lineout, mauled to the goal line, and eventually touched down through 8-man Joe Taufetee (Belmont Shore). Lesgourgues’ point after kick split the uprights, giving the hosts the early 7-0.
Unfortunately, that represented the first and last score for Los Angeles. New South Wales showed the composure and polish one would expect from a select-side that had recently completed their domestic season. L.A. defended their zone valiantly, with front-rowers Chris Baumann (SM) and Epi Kalemani (SM) making staunch tackles around the fringes and centers Ed Pitts (BS) and Peter Sio (BS) holding the midfield. Wingers James Muse (BS) and Patrick Bion (BS) both made try-saving tackles on separate occasions but eventually the numbers ran short and the visitors got the first of three first-half tries.
The only serious offensive threat the hosts mounted came at the end of the first 40 minutes. From within their defensive 22, lock Sam Lilley (BS) managed to turn-over a ball in tackle. He popped to scrumhalf Andy O’Connor (SM), who found Pitts in a gap and the Belmont center was away. Unfortunately, Pitts’ support was late in coming and he was pulled down near midfield by the Cockatoos fullback. Halftime score: NSW 19:LA 7.
The second half featured almost exclusive one-way traffic in favor of the visitors. When L.A. did have possession, they struggled to create go-forward ball with their forwards, which left the backline flat footed on attack. NSW employed a rush defense that constantly got Los Angeles moving backwards. Reserve flyhalf Brian O’Shea (SM) did well in kicking to the corners but the Cockatoos were far too polished in set-piece to concede easy turnover ball.
The visitors ended up running in four more tries in the second stanza, coming away with a decisive 43-7 victory.
Los Angeles Head Coach Greg Commins commented, “I assume this match mirrored the Northern California affair: short lead time and preseason fitness don’t often lend themselves to winning results. That stated, NSW obviously have quality, in-form players that have a good deal of familiarity with each other.
“We did some good things but obviously not enough to keep it close. That stated, I’d like to see more of these types of matches. We compete against each other so much and so often; it’s nice come together.”
On hand was Santa Monica Rugby legend Ron Guss, who played in the last clash between Santa Monica and NSW Country Rugby Union back in 1974.
The NSW Country team now moves to San Diego where they will take on OMBAC before heading off to Arizona.
Forwards: Brice Schilling, Chris Baumann, Epi Kalemani, Robert Cleere, Sam Lilley, Hayden Pitts, Phil Osborne, Joe Taufetee, Phil Lydeard, Simi Kuli, Billy Elray, Jabari Zuberi
Backs: Andrew O’Connor, Mathieu Lesgourges, Patrick Bion, Ed Pitts, Peter Sio, James Muse, Ali Ross, Danny Thomas, Brian O’Shea, Sam Sirrell, Sean Pypers, Loa Milford, Geoff Pound