Down 14, Cudas dominate 2nd half and win 42-28
by Bobby Hacker
The Baracudas (2nd XV of Santa Monica’s 3 mens rugby teams) took the field on Saturday knowing that the first side had suffered an unfortunate loss to long standing arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Rugby. There was no way that they were going to let LA stick us with two defeats. More importantly, at the start of the day, before event the first side warm ups began, one of the LA players noted that they had “a full second side.” I guess that is big news in LA-land
Early in the game, Chris Clay used his awesome speed and balance to start off the day’s scoring as he sliced up the defense for our first try of the day. LA then took advantage of some defensive lapses and scored a couple of quick tries. The boys headed into the half down a try.
Wanting to empty the bench, certain adjustments were made. One of those planned moves was to let Nick Regas go so he could study for the MCAT’s, but when I told him of the plan he asked if he could play on (he will miss next week for the test) and that he wanted to try the #10 jersey where he had played some in college. Needless to say, that move proved most valuable for us as he scored the first of his two tries, both of which were made on sheer determination to beat the opposition into a gap and then use his speed to score. In a cheeky move on one of the tries, he slid under the defender, but never placed the ball down, so that he could pop up and then dot it down under the posts.
Nick’s first try tied the score, but then LA managed to put up two in quick succession, leaving the team looking at the wrong end of a 28 – 14 score.
It was then in the last 20 minutes, that all of the pre-season fitness and conditioning began to pay off. First, Nick Regas feigned a pass to his inside runner then burst up the middle for a score through the heart of the L.A. Rugby defense. Shortly after that, Cam Bunce, playing his first game since the 2003 Collegiate All American Tour, followed the flow up field, burst onto a pass and scored in the corner to tie the score. As the team continued its assault, and with LA playing on their heels, Peter Roses, who as part of the second half adjustments moved from #6 to #12, took a ball off of a breakdown and streaked in for the go-ahead score (he probably wanted to make up for the breakaway try he had in the first half that was called back by the referee). The final score of the day, although scored by Cam Bunce, was made possible by Spencer May. Taking a ball inside of the 22, Spence broke toward the sideline and seeing the slightest space, burst for and through it carrying it at pace for 60 yards or so, until cover defense finally got to him, at which point he had the equally fast (maybe we need some speed challenges?) Cam on his outside who dotted down for the final try of the day, with slightly more than a minute left in the game. With all six tries converted by Padraig Cremin, the final score was 42 – 28.
As always, the game was much more than those that scored. Will Scott, Matt Cooper and Matt Petrini all had their SMRC debut. Matt Strangeway got a full game at #7 and is making the transition from the backline in fine form. Hats off to Ian Friedman who as a reward for making the reserves on the first grade, got to leave the number 2 jersey for the number 1 jersey and played 80 strong minutes. Stud #8 PJ Canterbury, filled in ably at #4. Jason Davenport came on in the second half and had an impact in cleaning up the fringes and not allowing LA any action around the base of the scrums or the loose.
Finally, a special hats-off to a couple of very special guys: Allen Corruth and Lamar “Tank” Finnikan. These two young men are a product of the ICEF program and have taken what they learned in that program and are now bringing it to the next level. After having played a successful third side match earlier that day in Fullerton, and down by two tries, we inserted these two, an 18 and a 19 year old, into the game at #8 and #9, and they both rose to the occasion. Allen gets better as a scrum-half each time he plays, and Tank, well, I think he just loves the contact. It is nice to see that one of the many seeds that SMRC has been sowing, whether through what Buddha envisioned and Stu brought to life, or what Kilian has built within our Club, start to blossom inside the men’s club.
Score: Santa Monica 42 : Los Angeles 28
Tries: Santa Monica – Regas (2), Bunce (2), Roses, Clay : Los Angeles – Smith (2), Evans, Roughton
Conversions: Santa Monica – Cremin (6) : Los Angeles – Smith (4)
Line-up: 1. Friedman; 2. Wallin (Riebli – 40); 3. Scott (Perkins – 40); 4. Canterbury; 5. Leichner; 6. Roses; 7. Strangeway; 8. Cooper (Davenport – 40); 9. Carpio (Corruth – 60); 10. Kremer (Finnikin – 40); 11. Cremin; 12. Regas; 13. May; 14. Clay; 15. Schwartz (Bunce – 20)