Written by the referee: Larry Freitas
USF’s Lady Dons came down to CSU Monterey Bay on another overcast Saturday, to play the Lady Otters in what was a very competitive match. Again, perfect weather for rugby, meaning cool temps, threatening skies with the next storm lining up from the north, and very unlike last season’s weather. USF arrived a good hour plus late for the match, due to traffic issues; and the game was originally scheduled at 1pm, and then moved back to noon. So the game ended up starting at 1:35. The pitch was a bit torn up from the previous week’s play, but at least no puddles of water like last weekend. USF started off the match showing that their back line was more organized for attack than CSUMB’s. Seven minutes in, flyhalf Sydney Abel was able to score and covert her own try for a 7-0 lead. Nearly half way through the first half USF would score again, with their center crashing over after a nifty run through the defense. That try was again converted for a 14-0 score. Another try, this one unconverted, made the score 19-0 at half time.
I was very impressed by Abel’s play, especially in that she would find space downfield and kick her team out of any CSUMB pressure, forcing CSUMB to play much of the game in their own half of the pitch. I would have to say that there isn’t much of that pressure-relieving kicking going on in matches I’ve officiated, men’s or women’s college games, in the recent past, and therefore fullbacks and wings don’t seem to react well with counter-attacking moves, and that was the case with CSUMB’s fullback letting the ball bounce a few times when she should have been catching it and either kicking it back or linking up with wings for a counter-attacking move.
As the second stanza started, CSUMB started putting more pressure on USF’s defense, which seemed to be tiring some. Momentum was starting to turn, and penalties were being given away by USF, now on the back foot, mostly for offsides at rucks, and one on a kick from deep in USF’s half by their flyhalf that ricocheted off a teammate standing too close by, only to land in the hands of one of their forwards up field another ten meters. A few minutes later, with CSUMB sensing that they could cross USF’s line, Sabrina Bacuangan, their scrum-half, picked the ball up from the base of a scrum inside USF’s 22, darting diagonally toward the right-hand side corner flag some 15 meters away. She was tackled just short but arriving at the scene of the tackle I saw that she had reached out and grounded the ball half a foot over the goal line. The unconverted try made it now 19-5. Bacuangan wasn’t finished. About seven minutes from time she once again made a dash for the goal line from a CSUMB scrum feed in mid-field, between the ten and 22, reaching the goal line and scoring just inside the right post; it seemed the correct tactic with split backs and plenty of open space with the ball channeled away from the opposing scrum-half side of the scrum to the number 8. She was channeling her Gareth Edwards. That try was converted and now the score read 19-12, but there were a scant seven minutes left, as I was adding injury time for quite a few stoppages earlier in the half. Now it was USF’s turn to score as time was running out, with one of their flankers crashing over with at least three CSUMB defenders trying to stop her. That try was converted again by Sydney Abel, who was picked as “Back of the Match” after the game by USF’s coaches. I blew the whistle for no-side immediately after the whistle to signal that the ball went over the crossbar.
Final thoughts: regarding the new laws, I had one call on the USF scrum-half for going into the “pocket.” There was a blood injury as well, as USF’s prop went off the field for about five minutes, in the middle of the second half, and they had to play short, as a few of their players had already gone off with injuries. There was plenty of hard tackles by players on both sides, but none warranted a dangerous tackle call from me. Finally, some women on both teams are new to the game and haven’t seen much action yet, but they seemed to listen well and tried their best not to infringe to keep the game going as much as possible. I didn’t have collapsed scrums, and there was no reason to go with uncontested scrums. Both teams have good coaching going for them. If these ladies continue playing, on each side, they have reason to have many wins in the future.
I also want to report a late score from last week at UCSC: Nevada Reno had brought some extra players and wanted a second game, as did UCSC. So with half of Nevada’s team made up of first-team players who had just finished a match, a sixty-minute affair took place, with Nevada beating Santa Cruz 30-14. I was originally scheduled to referee that match, then it was canceled as Nevada said they would only bring enough players for one game, and then it was on again. The only problem, as I had planned on watching the first teams play anyway, was that I had to go all the way back to Aptos to get my kit!
|12:00 pm||West Coast Collegiate Women's Division II||2015-2016||01/30/16|
|University of San Francisco||26|