Gael’s Struggle Early but Finish Strong in Dominant Win
The Saint Mary’s rugby team continued on with their great start to the season, beating Santa Rosa Men’s Club 57-19.
The Gael’s struggled for much of the first half, and were locked in a 14-14 tie well into the second half before their vaunted attack finally broke through. A Cooper Maloney try after a long run by Dylan Audsley broke the tie and opened the floodgates for the Gaels. They would go on to add two more tries within the next four minutes to widen the lead and put the game out of reach.
Before they eventually tired in the second half, the formidable Santa Rosa club gave the Gaels all that they could handle. Their physical forward pack proved almost impossible to move on scrums and their defense did a great job of not allowing Saint Mary’s players to get free into space on.
Utilizing this, Santa Rosa opened the scoring in the game and had a lead of 7-0 about 13 minutes into the match. The Gaels adapted however, and frequently used the strong leg of Garrett Brewer to kick in to touch and gain field position. This combined with the Gael’s dominance in lineouts proved to be their best offensive options against the stout Santa Rosa defense.
After coming close several times, the Gael’s finally got on the board when Kingsley McGowan took a ball down the right sideline before offloading to Alec Barton, who took it in for the try. Audsley’s conversion was good and the score was tied 7-7 after 20 minutes.
Santa Rosa then took advantage of a Saint Mary’s mistake to answer right back. Thanks to a fantastic kick by Brewer, the Gael’s were set up inside the 5 meter line but were held up going in for the try. Santa Rosa then won the resulting scrum and shipped it wide where they found open space to eventually take it all the way in for the try.
It looked as if the Gaels would go into halftime disappointed and down 14-7, but another great play by McGowan changed all of that. With less than a minute to go in the first half, McGowan was finally able to get out in open space and he took advantage by racing by the entire Santa Rosa back line to score the try singlehandedly. After the Audsley conversion, the game was tied at 14-14 heading into the half.
In the second half, Santa Rosa came out on the attack and had the Gael’s on their heels when another key sequence changed the whole complexion of the game. Santa Rosa drove deep into Saint Mary’s territory and looked poised to score before a knock-on inside the 5 meter line gave the scrum to the Gaels. Then, after having struggled in the scrums all day, the Saint Mary’s forward pack came up with a huge effort when they needed it, retaining possession of the ball.
From there Saint Mary’s was able to clear the ball out and give themselves some breathing room and they never looked back. After an offside penalty on Santa Rosa, Brewer took the ball off the reset and ran right before offloading to Audsley, who ran it down the sideline before giving it up to Maloney.
The conversion was no good so the score stood at 19-14 Saint Mary’s with 26 minutes left to play, but it would not stay that way for long. Using their superior conditioning to their advantage, the Gael’s added two quick tries, one by Luke Sauser and one by Nick Schlobohm, to widen the lead to 31-14 and effectively put the game away.
Santa Rosa would answer back with one more score of its own to make the score 31-19, but never would get any closer. In the closing minutes, Kyle Peterson would score a hard fought try off a pass from Jamie Borup, followed by a second try for Schlobohm and a second for Maloney as well to push the final score to 57-19.
With the win Saint Mary’s continues their great start to the season, which has now included wins over three very tough men’s club teams as well. They will look to keep their streak of solid play going next week in a showdown at home against Cal Poly.
by James Nelson