This past Saturday, October 6, Belmont Shore Rugby Club of Long Beach, California hosted the Manly Marlins out of Sydney Australia for a huge off-season clash.
“I was delighted four months ago when Manly approached us to play a game against them on their end of season tour!" said Belmont Shore Head Coach Ray Egan. "Manly are premiership sides in New South Wales in Sydney and made it to two semi grand finals and two grand finals this year.”
This gentleman's match was held at Oak Middle School in Los Alamitos, California and drew considerable crowds of all ages. The match consisted of two well-played halves and extended into overtime. For Belmont Shore, Egan was matched opposite Manly coach Damian Cummins.
Belmont Shore expected, and received, a challenging game against a very good Manly side who brought a number of their top side players.
“We knew that we were up against a quality side and with Belmont being in our off-season it was also going to be an uphill battle for us," said Egan. "Many of our players had not played full-contact rugby for four months and we also had players away on vacation. Additionally, four players were away with US National Sides. The game started off with real pace but from the off both sides struggled to put multiple phases together to capitalize on opportunities. It was evident that Manly were much more technical at the breakdown and moving the point of contact which gave them the bulk of the possession."
Belmont weathered the early storm with some superb tackling Peter Sio, Pase Iossia and James Muse. This game was going to be a very physical battle and it lived up to that.
Manly scored early from a lineout five meters out, which they mauled over to score. Belmont had one real good opportunity with Sio, Iossia and Sefu all involved but the ball failed to go to hand on the final pass. Belmont again attacked hard down the right wing with Jeff pound and Iossia and only for a retreating Manly player intercepting the pass Iossia would have certainly scored.
Into the second half Manly took control of the game and scored two good tries to bring it to 15-0. Late in the game Belmont were pushing hard to turn over the ball and then got their just reward with an interception by Brice Schilling, who then offloaded to Muse for an easy try. Jeff Pound added the conversion. Minutes after the kick off Kameron Moeller intercepted another pass after good pressure, and he ran in the try to make it 15-12.
With the last kick of the game Belmont slotted a penalty by Jeff Pound to tie the game at full time.
In overtime Manly again did damage with a mauled lineout from five meters out and scored with the conversion. Manly finished strong and added a penalty to make it 25-15.
Following the match, both teams and onlookers, celebrated together at Belmont Shore's sponsor, Panama Joe's in Long Beach.
“It was a fantastic day for all the supporters and players to be able to play and celebrate with such a quality side like Manly. I would like to thank Manly but especially all the supporters, committee members and players for making this occasion so special," said Egan.