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RUGBY

Sierra Foothills Rugby men pick up a pair of wins

B-Side falls to Hornets
By: Staff Report
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The Sierra Foothills Rugby Club mens A-Side came off a victory over the Sacramento Blackhawks to shut out a strong Vallejo club, 29-0, Jan. 26.

The Vallejo club, also off a victory over the Blackhawks, only had 13 members to fill out their typical 15-player roster. However, the visitors to Johnson-Springview field were young, strong and aggressive showing an eagerness to play on.

Vallejo proved both physical and relentless in their play. Although Sierra Foothills had prepared well with games against Sierra College and two Division II teams, the visitors stopped several SFRC opportunities to score.

The locals countered Vallejo with a strong defense of their own but careless ball handling frustrated Sierra in the first half. Both club’s displayed “smash mouth” rugby but Sierra began to get the upper hand in scrums. Vallejo also started drawing penalties for over aggressive play. That led to a penalty kick by Sierra flyhalf Mike Dopson to put his club up 3-0 in the first half.

Player-coach Dopson and Coach David Faingold gathered the team during halftime to calm frustrations and offer advice. Scrumhalf Luigi “Papado” Popolla and tight-head prop Josh Day also offered words to motivate their teammates.

That effort seemed to re-energize the club as the team got back to basics.

The backs got into synch as Popollo improved his ball delivery. Sierra began crashing through Vallejo’s formidable defense. Then 8-man Nate McGuire went on a determined run to score SFRC’s first try. Dopson’s conversion gave the locals a 10-0 lead.

Sierra’s confidence began to rise with better ball handling and exceptional line-out play by flanker Dylan Sanchez and hooker Blair Tomlinson. The forwards continued to ruck and maul effectively and opened Vallejo’s defense for right-winger Bryan Wardlaw to score another try.

After the defense forced the visitors to kick the ball away, McGuire again weaved his way through would-be tacklers for his second try of the match. Vallejo’s inability to stop the run became evident as left-winger Seth Bradley didn’t let his movie-star good looks keep him from sprinting 40 yards down the touchline for the final score and a 29-0 Sierra victory.

As is tradition, the two clubs retired to The Boxing Donkey where the locals treated their opponents to great Irish pub beer and food. A great time was had by all both on and off the pitch.

SIERRA FOOTHILLS 64, SACRAMENTO BLACKHAWKS 7

In their first Northern California Rugby Football Division III league match, Sierra ran roughshod over their conference rival Blackhawks on Sacramento’s home pitch.

Tries were scored by Dopson (3), Day (2) and one each by Bradley, loose-head Joe Bailey, winger Jon Smith, outside-center Ciaran Mahoney and Sanchez. Dopson added the 2-point conversions.

Other outstanding performances were turned in by 8-man Faleniko “Niko” Espino, flanker Tyler Gagnon, locks Ben and “Big Mike” Persyn and Popolla. Newcomer wings Mark Ormes and Levi Young played well as did fullback Ryan Carr.

SAC STATE HORNETS 35, SIERRA B-SIDE 20

The Sac State backs proved too quick and dynamic for SFRC B-Side mens team to overcome in spite of some fine play by scrumhalf Cody Juric, hooker Todd Goodwin and flanker Matt Windham.

Sierra made a courageous comeback in the contest with Windham scoring two tries against the formidable Hornets.