With the California Cup kicking off this weekend, the first match honors went to Life West v. Belmont Shore. For Life West, it is their first time stepping up to this level. The club itself is only a few years old, and they have had a meteoric rise through the ranks, taking home titles along the way including a top four finish in D1 last season and the DII championship the year before. Now they find themselves in one of the top competitions in the country. The Gladiators supplied a lot of players to the San Francisco Rush in PRO Rugby last year and while most of those players aren’t back due to PRO Rugby rules, the team is still loaded with local talent. Siupeli Sakalia and Rich Knight, both players with PRO Rugby experience will help the team in the forwards while the backs are as strong as they come.
The inaugural Cal Cup season kicked off on a beautiful day at Ray Sheeran Field on Treasure Island. It took 15 minutes, but it was Life West that would capitalize first as Siokatame Falatau scored. Pelepesite Toelupe-Tuisila subsequently hit a penalty as Life West went ahead 8-0. Ten minutes later they grabbed another try and then a third before the end of the half. The third try came from wing Manu Volavola. At the break Life West led 22-0.
The second half was a completely different story. Andy Jackson scored a try and conversion just a few minutes in for Belmont Shore and then he hit a couple of penalties to cut the lead to 22-13. Life West scored a crucial try to lead 27-13. Rob Newcomb would get a late try from Belmont Shore to make things interesting but Life West held on for the result 27 – 20, taking max points from the encounter, and now have a share of the league lead with SFGG and OMBAC.
The Gladiators will play the Old Aztecs next week down in San Diego, CA.