San Francisco Golden Gate shut down the Glendale Raptors 43-10 Saturday at Ray Sheerhan Field on Treasure Island, San Francisco Saturday to move to 3-0 in the Elite Cup.
SFGG did a superb job controlling field position and got tries from seven different players.
Glendale scrumhalf Shaun Davies drew first blood for the visitors ten minutes into the game with a 23-meter penalty kick, but it was all SFGG from then to the final whistle. Led by hooker Chris Biller and No. 8 Tevita Koloamatangi, SFGG controlled the breakdowns and the tempo of the game.
Wing Jeff Van Meter scored shortly after the Davies penalty on a 30-meter burst down the sideline. Fellow wing Jeff Colata added a try four minutes later with a nifty juggling act off a perfect pass from Mile Pulu. Colata gathered the ball, broke two tackles, and raced in between the posts.
Playing with the wind, Glendale was unable to use it to their advantage in the first half. While their backline of centers Justin Pauga and Chad London moved the ball well in spurts, they were unable to crack Golden Gate’s sure tackling. Lock Casey Rock and No. 8 Nic Johnson controlled Glendale’s lineouts, but could not get that crucial break.
At 33 minutes, fullback Heine MacFarland received a Glendale kick at midfield, moved up the middle and then to the far side, eluding several Glendale tacklers in the process, offloaded to the ever-present Biller, who in turn fed Kolamatangi charging up the sideline. The flanker linked up with back row mate Danny LaPrevotte for a textbook example of forward support in loose play. Rouse’s kick, from a severe angle into a tough cross wind, split the uprights, easily his best kick of the day, to put Golden Gate ahead 19-3.
Glendale showed the tenacity they displayed for the full 80 minutes. After the ensuing kickoff, Davies took a little box kick from ageless scrumhalf Mose Timoteo, reversed field several times, bouncing off tacklers, and then broke loose. He linked with Pauga at center who split two defenders and scored from 12 meters out. Davies converted and Glendale got as close as they would for the rest of the day, 19-10.
Kaloamatangi put any thoughts of a comeback to rest in the following restart. SFGG forced a Glendale turnover and Timoteo allowed his forwards to pound the ball up the field through props Jake Nelson and Paul Fukofuka. Finally Koloamatangi ran the ball five meters in for the final try of the half to make it 24-10.
With the wind behind them in the second half and comfortably in the lead, Golden Gate pinned Glendale in their end for most of the rest of the game.
Although Glendale tackled hard, in the end the forward work by the likes of Llocks Mike Stack and Tom Rooke, flanker Bruce Thomas, Biller, LaPrevotte, and Fukofuka was too much for the Glendale pack. Biller pushed a try in at 46 minutes, and then Fukafuka broke through two tacklers to steamroll his way over.
Outside center Samisone Pone, who had another solid game on offense and defense, made a lovely run on quick ball to finish off the Raptors 43-10. Koloamatangi and Rouse were named players of the game, and SFGG Head Coach Grant Wells was especially pleased with his Rouse controlled the match.
"Volney did a great job," he said. "We avoided penalty trouble and allowing Davies to kick their way closer because we controlled field position. Volney kicked really well from the hand. I thought Chris Biller had an outstanding game, but it all came down to our defense. We worked really hard on that this week."
The loss by Glendale opened the door for either Denver or Old Puget Sound Beach to win and finish second. In that game, OPSB shut down the Denver offense to win 39-14.
"We went through phases - four, five, six times - but we could never get that phase where we broke through," said Denver flanker Logan Collins. "They just did such a good job on defense against us."
Nick Hawkins scored two tries, as did Fili Botitu for OPSB. And Miles Craigwell and Pate Tuilevuka added tries, while captain Matt Trouville scored a try and kicked two conversions (regular kicker Russell Armstrong played, but did not kick due to a mild ankle injury).
Trouville was thrilled with his team's performance, especially that of Tuilevuka, who kicked well from the hand to make life difficult for Denver.
"It was a good game," said Trouville. "We didn't know the Glendale result before we went into the match. We wanted to focus on what we needed to do, not on anything else. It worked out. Nick Hawkins ran some nice running lines, and it's a good thing we scored four tries in all of those games, because it paid off."
Indeed it did. By earning four-try bonus points in all three of their matches, OPSB end up finishing second in the West and will travel to San Francisco for the semifinals.
Austin Brewin contributed to this report