July 30, 2016
San Francisco Rush Secure Fourth With Win Against Sacramento Express
Photo: PRO Rugby
Last night the San Francisco Rush edged the Sacramento Express 37-34 to conclude their first PRO Rugby season in fourth place. The Rush ended with a 4-8 record with 24 points, one point below the third place San Diego Breakers. The Sacramento Express had a 3-9 record with 18 points, while finishing in fifth.
Both the Express and Rush were playing exciting rugby at the end of the season and should come back in 2017 as even stronger teams.
In terms of League accomplishments, Volney Rouse had 12 points in the match and is now the leading points scorer for the Rush with 119. Mirco Bergamasco had 11 points in the match for the Express and moved into third place with 111 points. Bergamasco is also the second leading tackler with 61.
Sacramento Express v San Francisco Rush Match Recap
It didn’t take long for the San Francisco Rush to take an early 3-0 lead, as Volney Rush kicked a penalty kick three minutes into the match. Jay Finau added a try from close to the line and Rouse converted to lead 10-0 at the 11th minute.
Two minutes later, Rouse was cited for an infraction and sent to the bin. During that time the Express were able to capitalize when Chris Saint scored after a scrum. Mirco Bergamasco then converted to narrow the score to 7-10. Mirco Bergamasco then added a penalty kick to tie the match at 10 all.
With San Francisco back again at full strength, the Rush went through several phases beofre Sam Finau found a gap for a try and the Rush reclaimed the lead for good.
Bergamasco responded with a second penalty kick to narrow the score to 13-15. Soon after John Quill was also sent to the bin for repeat infringements and San Francisco attacked again.
With three minutes remaining prior to halftime, Mils Muliaina sold a dummy and offloaded to Devereaux Ferris for a try. Ferris then added a second as at the 40th minute as the Rush took a 29-13 lead at halftime.
The Rush momentum continued early in the second half as Pila Longi kciked ahead and the kick was mishandled by Sacramento. Mils Muliaina was there and scouped it in for a try in the corner.
The Express stormed back and their dominant scrum resulted in a penalty try at the 54th minutes. Bergamasco slotted the conversion to narrow the score to 20-34.
At the 69th minute, Olive Kilifi picked the ball from in close and drove in for a try with Quill also driving. When Bergamasco added another conversion it was 27-34.
Late in the match, a Sacramento lineout overthrow, allowed the Rush to attack and an infraction allowed Rouse to kick a penalty that made it a two score game with 3 minutes remaining.
The Express did add another try by John Quill and converted by Bergamasco, just as the match ended with San Francisco on top 37-34.
Final thoughts on both teams
Both teams started the season slowly being competitive, but not being able to close out wins. Later in the season, both teams came on adding wins and were forbidable opponents.
Eric Fry, Ray Barkwill, and Val Lee-Lo present an excellent platform in the front row and are a strength for the team. Barkwill has been a warrior on the pitch all season, but needs to attend to knee.
Robert Meeson has been a solid performer at Lock, while the back row of John Quill, Kyle Sumsion and Langilangi Haupeakui have been among the best in the League.
Langilangi Haupeakui was brought into the Eagles’s camp prior to the Russia match and his performance earned his way onto the Eagles squad and his first international cap. This coming week, he will be training with the Harlequins from the Aviva Premiership and it is hoped that a contract is extended. He has a bright future.
Mirco Bergamasco proved to be one of the best International additions to the League. He is a real leader on the pitch, a play maker and was one of the best tacklers. Harry Bennett is also a quality player, whether at fullback or at flyhalf. Cody Jerabeck. a young player, has made others take notice with his powerful attacks at wing.
The Express were an excellent defensive club, but may benefit from adding a couple of players to make their offense more of a consistent threat.
San Francisco Rush
In the front row Patrick Latu has performed well all season whether at Hooker or Prop. The forward pack is the type that can wear down the opposition as the match progresses. As the season progressed, the forwards were more of a factor in offensive attacks. Continued attention to being able to perform for greater lengths of time at match pace, will likely get the Rush off to a better start next season.
Both Brendan Daly and Jeremy Laenaerts are good young players. Jeremy was among the leading tacklers in the League, while Brendan showed his versatility playing either Lock or Flanker.
In the back row, Sam Finau and Bill Fukofuka were forces around the pitch both offensively and defensively.
The backs were among the best in the League and they played with a flair. Deveraux Ferris provided a late season link to the team’s playmakers, Volney Rouse and Orene Ai’i. Nick Blevins was solid performer at center, and Pila Longi was a threat at wing. Their presence was missed for several mid-season matches due to international call-ups for Canada and Tonga, respectively. Mils Muliaina arrived at mid-season and then was not available for a number of matches due to injury. When he played, it was readily apparent what a difference he could make in a match.
While I did see the Rush play once in Ohio, I did not have the opportunity to see the Express play live. Viewing a match live, does make a difference in gaining a better perspective.
I must say that I enjoyed watching all the PRO Rugby teams this season and thought that the teams performed well as professionals. The quality of play in the United States has risen as a result and it will only get better. I can’t wait for the second PRO Rugby season and the action and surprises it brings.
Sacramento Express: 1 Eric Fry 2 Ray Barkwill 3 Val Lee-Lo 4 Robert Meeson 5 Matt Doubek 6 Kyle Sumsion 7 John Quill 8 Langilangi Haupeakui 9 Chris Saint 10 Mirco Bergamasco 11 Garrett Bender 12 Nemia Qoro 13 Jope Motokana 14 Cody Jerabeck 15 Harry Bennett 16 Cam Falcon 17 Olive Kilifi 18 Estephan Tuimasanga 19 Ryan Koewler 20 Kali Tavake 21 Ronald Dwyer 22 Shane Moore 23 Alex Hodgkinson Coaches: Head Coach – Luke Gross Assistant Coaches: Kevin Battle, Fred Waititi
San Francisco Rush: 1. Codi Jones 2 Jay Finau 3 Patrick Latu 4 Brendan Daly 5 Jeremy Laenaerts 6 Sam Finau 7 Isaac Helu 8 Bill Fukofuka 9 Deveraux Ferris 10 Volney Rouse 11 Pila Longi 12 Orene Ai’i 13 Nick Blevins 14 Michael Haley 15 Mils Muliaina 16 Mone Laulaupeaalu 17 Fancy Namulau’ulu 18 Niko Lolohea 19 Jake Anderson 20 Siupeli Sakalia 21 Jack O’Hara 22 Martini Talapusi 23 Michael Reid Coaches: Head Coach – Paul Keeler Assistant Coaches: Adriaan Ferris, Simon Fathers
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