The highly anticipated battle of Northern California Rugby heavyweights took place Saturday at Danny Nunn Park in Sacramento with the Life West Gladiators prevailing over the Sacramento Capitals, 73 – 10. The victory earned the Gladiators their second straight Northern California Rugby Championship.
The Gladiators were determined to start the game with discipline and intensity and followed form. Attacking the Capitals from the start and maintaining pressure at full throttle, never allowing the Capitals to gain advantage or execute their game plan.
From the kick off, the Gladiator forwards created a platform by dominating the physical exchanges and after only three minutes on the game clock, up and coming young center, Mose Fualaau scored the first of his team’s eleven tries after he received a superbly timed pass from winger and 1st quarter student, Calvin Nell, to score in the right-hand corner. This was accurately converted from the sideline by former Auckland Blues and New Zealand 7’s playmaker, Orene Ai’i, who was in scintillating form with the boot.
The Capitals made sure they were not just making up the numbers by kicking a three-point penalty and then scoring a well-worked converted team try in the 20th minute of the game. However, subsequent tries in the first half to Junior Helu, Keith Belliveau, Akuila Uaisele, Ai’i and team captain, Nili Latu made the result a forgone conclusion at the interval, with Life West leading 42-10 at the break.
The second half was a carbon copy of the first, with the Gladiators piling on points through additional tries to Ai’i, Helu and Fualaau, with replacement Hooker, Tino Mafi and livewire fullback, Travis Atualevao both getting onto the score sheet. Some outstanding kicking from Ai’i saw him finish the day with a personal points tally on 28 points.
Winning a Championship game by such a blowout is an incredible feat and one the Gladiators can be take confidence from as they advance in the National Championship. Adriaan Ferris, Head Coach of the Gladiators, was naturally pleased with the win and reflected on a job well done. “The team is showing it’s potential and the players are becoming aware of their strength as a collective. We stuck to the game plan and came away with a comprehensive win.”
However, despite winning convincingly against all teams in the NorCal league, Coach Ferris is acutely aware of what lies ahead in the USA Rugby Play-off Series. “We are excited about the next game in the playoffs; but lets celebrate (first) tonight then we will recalibrate this week to prepare for the Pacific North Championship in a couple of weeks.”
The team will face Pacific Northwest Champions Snake River Rugby, who successfully won their fourth straight league championship by beating Oregon Sports Union, 26 – 15.
The Pacific North Championship match will be held May 9 at Cal Maritime Academy in Vallejo, CA and promises to be a battle from start to finish.
For more information and to support the Gladiators on their march through the post-season, go to www.lifewestrugby.com.