Santa Rosa came back from a 19-11 deficit in Sunday’s Pacific Coast DII club final to beat Idaho’s Snake River 25-19 and take the PCRFU title.
The victory gives Santa Rosa the #1 seed coming out of the Pacific Coast. Snake River takes #2, and ORSU, which beat San Jose Sunday for 3rd, takes the #3 seed.
Santa Rosa ran out to an early 3-0 lead thanks to a penalty, but fell behind 7-3 when Snake scored their first try of the day. Rosa replied with another penalty and a try to lead 11-7, but just before halftime, Snake River scored two converted tries to turn the game on its head 19-11.
“We felt we could have gotten more points,” said Snake River Head Coach Mike Saunders. “We had a kickable penalty and chose to quick tap it.”
Snake knocked on in-goal.
“We felt we could have come away with three or five points there,” Saunders said.
In the second half, Santa Rosa dominated possession, pinning Snake in their own end for most of the 40 minutes and inching closer with a try to make it 19-18, and then the winner. Hooker Ian Davis, who had an outstanding game in all facets of play, deservedly got the try.
But Snake had a chance to come back. An interception put them right on Santa Rosa’s doorstep. But the Californian team’s defense was just good enough.
“This was an exciting a match as I have been a part of,” said Santa Rosa Coach Alan Petty. “We really had to work hard because Snake River is a very good team. I think we’re just as happy that we don’t have them in our bracket. I could see them getting to the final four.”
Flanker Bryce Paulson and flyhalf John Muchow were instrumental to the Santa Rosa effort, Muchow especially in the second half when his boot helped his club dictate field position terms.
But it was their hard work preventing the possible winning try that stuck with Petty.
"They showed a lot of heart to get back and stop that attack," he said. "To have all that possession and then lose it at the end would have been tough. But credit to Snake River, they kept coming at us."
For Snake there are no regrets.
“We lost to Portland in our first game of the season, but after that we kind of got our act together,” said Saunders, who team’s effort was led by prop Izander Kotze and flanker Bart Johnson. “The guys worked hard and we got some good results. We had some injuries at the end of the season, and now we’re just going to get healthy and get ready for Nationals. We’ve been to the Pacific Coast playoffs 15 times, and I think this is only the 6th time we’ve made it to the national tournament. We know it’s hard, but the competition is only going to get harder.”