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SFGG Pulls it out in Final Moments

Saturday May 30, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby Rugby Super League

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(Volney Rouse has five of those SFGG points. Toni Hensley photo.)

May 30, 2009 – San Francisco Golden Gate defeated Life University 23-13 at the 2009 Super League final in Glendale, Colo., scoring the winning points in the final seconds of a defensive, tense, and dramatic game.

Life had the measure of the territory in the first half, and looked set to score early as fullback Nolte Coetzee lined up a 51-meter penalty kick. But Coetzee was short on that kick and wide on an easier one.

SFGG had little chance to get into Life territory early but when they did, they did it quickly. Seta Palamo’s big run got them going and after pressure off a lineout, SFGG made the pressure pay. After lock Kevin Erskine set the platform, scrumhalf Mose Timoteo dropped a backhanded pass to onrushing prop Jason Bowden, who stepped out of a tackle and scored under the posts.

Volney Rouse hit the conversion for a 7-0 lead after ten minutes.

While SFGG were dangerous in loose play, they were most effective when they also worked the phases, with Timoteo urging his forwards to work harder.

Both teams had chances to score on penalty kicks, but missed. Life suffered a blow also when Coetzee went down with an injury, forcing some switches in the backline and Nathan Rogers to take up the kicking duties.

It was a kick that turned out to be the next score, but for SFGG. Rouse was good on a 32-meter attempt after SFGG’s forwards worked it downfield.

Late in the first half Life saw some good scoring opportunities. Player-coach Scott Lawrence was instrumental at loose forward as the team opened up their attack. Tui Osborne was close, but his chip ahead went dead. Moments later, it all worked out. The Running Eagles took the ball up into contact and offloaded, with Lawrence making the key play that allowed Osborne to go in at the corner.

10-5 at halftime.

Admonished by skills coach Karl Thompson to play their game more, SFGG extended their lead with a 50-meter kick from Rouse to make it 13-5.

But Life took control of much of the game from then on. Life worked the phases with intensity before No. 8 Mark Aylor took a pass from Pete Burt and rolled over, losing a shoe in the process.

Right off the restart SFGG got a penalty, but Rouse missed, and missed kicks would plague both teams all day.

The game became very scrappy, epitomized by the gamesmanship between scrumhalves Timoteo and Brendan Thompson. One such tussle earned another penalty for Rouse to attempt, and he missed that one, too.

With the score 13-10 SFGG, Life battered hard against the SFGG line. The Bay-Area club held firm, but were penalized. Off a quick tap Jone Naqica jumped in to intercept a pass and looked clear to run 90 meters to score. But he was called offside. Aaron McMaster instead lined up his kick, and tied the ballgame 13-13.

With the physicality ramped up the played started hurting themselves – knock-ons, mistakes. Rouse missed his fourth penalty – SFGG kissed 12 points in kicks and Life 13 – but after that SFGG started to have the run of play. Naqica made a big run down the sidelines, but his kick ahead was fielded by Nathan Rogers.

Finally, a big mistake. Burt’s kick downfield rolled dead and suddenly SFGG had a scrum on the Life 22. They worked it tight, using Bowden and LaPrevotte, and earned a penalty. Naqica attempted the drop goal with the advantage called, but missed, however Rouse did not miss this time, and his side led 16-13 with less than a minute left.

Life had one more chance, and running the ball wide, saw the ball pop loose – sub back Toshi Palamo nabbed the ball after his tackle and slipped it to Seta Palamo, who galloped 40 meters for the backbreaker. Rouse was good on the kick and the game was over 23-13.

“We knew it was going to come down to a last-second thing,” said SFGG director of rugby Paul Keeler. “I am just so proud of the club.”

A first ever title for SFGG, and a Man of the Match award for the veteran Timoteo, who directed play superbly.

Tries: Bowden, S. Palamo
Convs: Rouse 2
Pens: Rouse 3

Life 13
Tries: Osborne, Aylor
Pens: McMaster

- Alex Goff © www.erugbynews.com

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