Both our men’s and women’s team had matches this weekend, our Gladiatrix against SF Golden Gate, and our Gladiators against the Sacramento Lions.
The first match of the day was first-place Gladiatrix v. second-place SF Golden Gate, with SFGG being their only real competition so far this season. Although overcast, the pitch was firm underfoot, and running rugby was in the cards for the Trix.
After a slow first 20 minutes, our Trix began to assert their dominance in defense and used their set piece and open play to spread opened up SFGG with five tries in ten minutes, including two by Jordan Gray, one through a brilliant kick return by Mirelle Raza, and one though a classic Cameo Motley 60-meter sprint. At the half, they lead 43 — 0.
They carried their momentum though the break, scoring off the kickoff through Mata Hingano, who picked up six tries on the day. Following the conversion by Nastasha Pedjase, the Trix secured the ball again on the kickoff. One minute later, they got the ball through a massive scrum, and Mele Taumoefolau ran forty meters for the try.
Their set piece steadily improving through the day, the Trix stole an SFGG 5-meter lineout in the 58th minute and returned it for a try at the other end, again through Mata, her third of the day. Two minutes later they demolished the Golden Gate scrum and scored in the corner though Mirelle Raza, putting the Gladiatrix up 77 — 0.
They were relentless. Again off the kickoff, the ball was sent wide to Amy Naber, who hit centre Hali Deters on a beautiful crash line. Deters then offloaded in contact to Motley, who collected her third try under the posts.
With thirteen minutes left, the Trix were up 96 — 0, and showed no signs of stopping. Throughout the match, they were dominant in all facets of their play; contact, possession, passing, set piece, and support. They starved SFGG of possession while making the most of their own.
Until the final whistle, the Trix did not let up one iota; they controlled over 80% of possession during the course of the match. Although both teams were slow to find their footing in the first quarter, it was the Gladiatrix who wrested control of the game, and did not step back a single inch.
Final score: Life West Gladiatrix 125 – 0 SF Golden Gate.
With twenty two tries on the day, six tries from Mata Hingano, Cameo Motley with four, & Mirelle Raza picking up a hat trick, the Trix remain undefeated at the top of the table with 35 points. They boast a +450 point differential and look to face little resistance in the matches ahead. Their next game will be on April 1st, against Colusa RFC at home.
In the final match of the day, the clouds cleared as our Gladiators stepped onto the pitch against the Sacramento Lions in an anticipated match that would test the physicality and structures of both teams.
Fly-half Gui Cazenave got the scoring started early, starting and finishing a sweeping move that opened up the Lions defense in the 7th minute. A few minutes later, Cazenave scored again; handling the kicking for the day, he finished with 31 points (2T, 10C). The Gladiators smartly controlled possession while stymying the Lions offense, and it showed; the Gladiators picked up their fourth (and bonus point) try in the 28th minute. Gainline access and quick ball from the ruck allowed flowing and wide-to-wide rugby, with eightman Maka Tameilau especially essential to front-foot ball, often requiring two or three defenders to bring him down. The ball was kept through the hands with precision. Directed by scrumhalf Devereaux Ferris at the ruck and Cazenave in the backs, Life made meters at will.
Showing some resolve, the Lions responded with two quick tries from open play in the 32nd and 36th minute, but the Gladiators responded two two more of their own before the half through hooker Jay Finau and blindside flanker Anthony Aranda. At the break, Life held a healthy lead of 40 – 12 over the Lions, six tries to two.
The Gladiators showed no signs of stopping as the game moved into the second period. With captain Zach Bonte leading from the front, the Gladiators quickly scored again through the strength of left wing Junior Helu. It wasn’t until ten minutes later, in the 54th minute, that Life scored again, this time though right wing Anthony Muñoz. Bonte powered over a few minutes later for another try, pushing the Gladiators’ lead to 61 – 12. The final twenty minutes of the second half signaled multiple changes for the Gladiators as they emptied their bench, but it did little to affect their forward momentum. Hooker Finau picked up another try, and Tameilau finished a great day with a try at the 79th minute, with Cazenave adding the conversion.
Final score: Life West Gladiators 75 – 12 Sacramento Lions.
Life West used a strong team effort to run over the Sacramento Lions, 75-12. With strong set pieces from the forwards and great movement from the backs, the home team rang up the points early and often, finishing with ten tries to the Lion’s two. Said head coach Adriaan Ferris, “I think the boys played with a lot of energy, and when we stuck to our structures, we were effective. Our set piece, scrums and lineouts went well, and that laid the foundation for a solid win.” Leading the way for Life was wing Junior Helu and eightman Maka Tameilau. “Junior was quite strong with his ball carries, and Maka really allowed us to get going with his carries off the set piece,” said Ferris.
Top 4 Playoffs
The Lions match was the last of the season, and the Gladiators move into the Top 4 playoffs for Pacific North D1. The playoffs will be a series of games, with the top of the table determined by points earned – three for a win, one for a try-bonus, and one point if losing by fewer than a converted try.
The Gladiators first match will be this weekend at home against the EPA Razorbacks. Though not as strong as they were last year, they have still proven to be an abrasive and physical team. The last time Life and EPA met, the Gladiators scraped out a win, 30 – 27. This weekend looks to be an explosive and eagerly awaited clash between the two sides. Details are posted on the the Life West Rugby facebook page, here.