This past weekend, the Santa Monica Lady ‘Phins took the field in Dallas, TX at the USA Rugby National Championships.
The ladies first faced Denver Black Ice on Saturday. Santa Monica struck first with a try by wing Hannah Han, who used her speed after textbook backline passing down the line. The conversion was good by Becky “Bunz” Hearn and the ‘Phins were up 7-0 just 13 minutes in. Unfortunately, the ‘Phins defense had trouble containing the offloading game by Denver and started a scoring streak that was not countered until the second half with another try by Han (conversion good by Hearn). The whistle blew with a final score of 14-41.
On Sunday, with a renewed spirit and optimistic attitude, Santa Monica took the field against the Austin Valkyries. After a quick turnover, the Valkyries scored first, bringing the score the 0-7. A yellow card against Santa Monica had the team scrambling on defense and allowed the Valkyries to score once more (0-14). Austin’s scrumhalf was then yellow carded and the ‘Phins took advantage when fullback Tia Blythe flew through the Valkyries’ backline for a pick and try to bring the score to 7-14 (conversion good by Hearn). The Valkyries answered with another try before the half, but missed the conversion, ending the half at 7-19.
The second half featured a renewed Santa Monica side, showcasing the defense that brought the ‘Phins to Nationals. After receiving the ball, the ‘Phins acted quickly, with the forwards securing the ball and getting it into the hands of the speedy backs and ultimately touched down by Hearn (conversion by Hearn good, 14-19). Another stellar pick by Tia Blythe was supported by Hearn and then by inside center Nina Crane, who scored the try to take the lead (conversion by Hearn, 21-19). Hearn then capped off her outstanding game with another try, adding to the ‘Phins lead by 26-19. The Valkyries fought hard and were able to notch another try, but could not convert, bringing the score to 26-24. With 3 minutes left in the game, the ‘Phins were able to force a turnover and take possession of the ball. The forwards retained possession, eating up the clock and the final whistle blew with Santa Monica victorious, 26-24.
This places the Santa Monica Women in the top 6 Division 1 teams in the country. In their inaugural year, the Lady ‘Phins have made their mark and look forward to continued success next season!