On a beautiful day at Ray Sheerhan Field, Treasure Island, Colorado’s Glendale Raptors, took on the home side San Francisco Golden Gate (SFGG) in a well-played match which saw SFGG win 43-10.
Glendale scrum half Shaun Davies drew first blood for the visitors ten minutes into the game with a 23 yard penalty kick, but it was all SFGG until the final whistle. Led by hooker Chris Billers and a tenacious back row of Danny La Prevotte, Tevita Koloamatangi and Bruce Thomas SFGG dominated the breakdowns and produced fast ball for the attacking backline.
Winger Jeff Van Meter scored shortly after the Davies penalty on a recycled ball with a 30-yard burst down the sideline to the corner flag. Four minutes later Winger Jeff Colata bookended that score with a perfect pass from Milemoti Pulu. Colata avoided the knock-on, breaking two tackles in the process then raced untouched the last 20 yards to set the ball down between the posts. Volney Rouse, presented with the perfect angle, easily converted the kick.
Glendale was unable to use the wind to their advantage in the first half. Though their centers Justin Pauga and Chad London moved the ball well in spurts, they were unable to crack SFGG’s strong tackling. Lock Casey Rock and number eight Nic Johnson controlled Glendale’s lineouts, but the forwards were unable to find cracks in the SFGG defense to press the forward play beyond three or four possession, and eventual turnovers allowed SFGG to go on the attack.
At the 33 minute mark, fullback Heine MacFarland received a Glendale kick from deep in SFGG territory and deftly moved the ball first up the center of the pitch then to the far side, eluding several Glendale tacklers in the process. He off-loaded to the ever-present Biller, who in turn fed Rooke charging up the sideline. A neat pass continued the move by Thomas, who was unlucky to not go over the try line himself, and a quick ruck gave Rouse the opportunity to complete the perfect pass to Rooke for the try. Rouse’s kick, from a severe angle into a tough crosswind, split the uprights for easily his best kick of the day. Golden Gate pulled further ahead 19-3.
After the ensuing kickoff Glendale showed the type of tenacity they were to display for the full 80 minutes. Davies returned a box kick from SFGG scrum half Mose Timoteo and reversed field several times bouncing off tacklers before breaking lose at his own 40 yard line. With space ahead, Davies and his Glendale support drove on the defenders and made another 35 yard gain before being forced to pass to help. Inside Center Justin Pauga received the ball at pace and darted through two defenders for a 12-yard try. Having worked hard to setup the try for his team, a still-winded Davies converted and Glendale got as close as they would for the rest of the day at 19-10.
Kaloamatangi put any thoughts of a comeback to rest in the following restart. Golden Gate forced a Glendale turnover and Timoteo allowed his forwards to pound the ball up the field. Prop Jake Nelson gathered a loose ball and drawing two defenders executed a perfect pass to Kloamatangi who ran the last 10 yards for the score with 2:30 minutes to go in the half. Rouse’s angle proved too tough and the score at halftime remained 24-10.
With the wind behind them in the second half, and comfortably in the lead, Coach Grant Wells’ squad was content to press for territory inside the Glendale 25, and the forwards were left to do the heavy lifting. Although Glendale tackled hard, the forward work by the likes of locks Mike Stack and Tom Rooke, flanker Bruce Thomas, Billers, LaPrevotte, and Fukofuka was too much for the Glendale pack.
Six minutes into the second half, Billers pushed a in a forward try which was capped by Rouse’s second cross-wind beauty from the side at the 22 meter mark. With the spread 31-10 Fukofuka went down for a moment and was thought to be out due to injury; however, he remained in the game and showed he was just fine, breaking two tackles and running in a brute force try from ten yards out with 60 minutes gone in the match.
Substitutions for both sides finished off the balance of the game until starting outside center Samisone Pone, who had another solid game on offense and defense, made a lovely run on quick ball from the relentless forward pack. Pone raced 15 yards through Glendale’s now tiring defense to score with only injury time left in the game. McFarland, kicking for Rouse, was unable to convert leaving the final at 43-10.
Tevita Koloamamatangi was awarded Forward of the Match, and Back of the Match was given to Voulney Rouse.
Colorado based referee, Brian Zapp was aided by ARs Simpson and O’Mahoney. Bruno and Newport served as numbers 3 and 4.
John Wallace provided this report.