Dolphins score seven tries in friendly against collegiate side
By Marc Stcherbina
With the Winter sun beating down and a gentle Santa Ana breeze blowing, it was a perfect day for rugby in Claremont in Eastern Los Angeles County. When the boys from Santa Monica finally found the venue, they were delighted to be greeted by real grass and proper rugby posts (SMRC currently practices on artificial turf).
Skippered by the tireless Zac Winter, the Dolphins line-up featured at least 6 players who had never played a game of rugby before. It was soon evident that the crimson clad Claremont team was similarly matched, as the opening stanza remained scoreless despite some threatening displays of attack from both sides. The Dolphins’ defense held strong against some enterprising Claremont play and a great individual try effort from Santa Monica Wing Ryan Parr broke the deadlock in the 2nd quarter. From this moment the Dolphins lifted a level and continued to dominate, with the halfback combination of Peirce Cooley and flying Frenchman Anthony Chouchena controlling the game well. The 9 and 10 would be rewarded for their efforts with a try each, again through some fine individual play.
The game was not without drama, with 2 sin bins given to SMRC – one for overzealous retaliation to a Claremont tackle, which saw local ringer “Charty” spend 10 minutes on the sideline; the other to British hooker Robert Knowles for doing what the Brits do best – complaining about the referee’s decision, this time for a ruck infringement. Rugby newbie Garrett Nolan, who played college football at USC, received his initiation accordingly with a deep head wound that required 7 stitches. Johnny Jackson was in the thick of things all day, celebrating the return to his former college with a brace of tries, while still having enough energy to move house later that day. Wade LaRouche’s fashionably late arrival to the match did not deter him as he crashed his way over for the team’s 5th five pointer. Only fatigue toward the final stages of the game saw the Santa Monica defense lapse to allow Claremont a well-deserved consolation try.
With the final result at 7 tries to 1, it was a confidence boosting and extremely beneficial hit out for the relatively inexperienced Santa Monica team, especially against an opposition with a reputable rugby program and a field with real grass.
Said Coach Marc Stcherbina, “It was a good day all around. We had some enterprising play. Pierce and Anthony really did a great job of controlling the flow of play and it helped the inexperienced players to see how phases build on one another. Oh, and did I mention the grass? Top-notch!”