(Dobson Images courtesy of RugbyMAG)
The Fallbrook Warriors from San Diego, Calif. won the Emirates Airline USA Rugby 2011 Girl's Under-19 National Championship on Sunday, shutting out the Amazons of Sacramento in a massive 60-0 showing.
It was a classic clash of opposites: speed v. size and power v. technique. The much-larger Amazons side tried to power their way to two consecutive national titles, but Fallbrook was fearless, well-drilled and they executed a game plan that ended up giving them 60 points.
Fallbrook exploited their speed advantage and were able to counteract the Amazons' physicality with tenaciousness and technique. Sacramento tried to keep the ball in tight, counting on their size to wear down Fallbrook. However, the Fallbrook girls knew they could secure ball and weren't at all interested in engaging in a contest of strength. Rather, they secured their own ball and spun the ball out to their dangerous backs.
The ball movement was phenomenal by Fallbrook and all of the players got a lot of touches on the ball with the goal of releasing the outside and midfield backs. Tara Burke was on an absolute tear and was able to use her speed and balance to step the Amazon defenders.
Sisters Megan and Samantha Pinson were very impressive in the win, dictating the pace of the breakdown, poaching plenty of ball by competing at the breakdown and forcing the Amazons to keep up.
To their credit, the Amazons never backed down, even after being down by more than 30 points at half time. Their leader, Vaimoana Vailea, tried to inspire her side, but Fallbrook's incredible commitment to defense thwarted any chance of a comeback.
Frustration leaked into play in the 66th minute as Joanne Faavesi got sent off with a yellow card.
Sacramento continued to put in heavy tackles and had a few promising attacking opportunites, but Fallbrook's cover defense was just too good. Execution of a plan was key, and Fallbrook executed magnificently.
"Bottom line was that we knew what we wanted to do. We've played this team before, we knew we wanted to keep the ball away from their loose forwards," said Craig Pinnell.
When asked about the immense defensive effort, the coach referred to their team motto: "Defense is about commitment and attack is about confidence."
The Fallbrook Warriors lived that motto today to the letter and can now call themselves national champions.