Written by the referee: Hinkin, James
Northern California showed its whimsical side when it comes to weather this past weekend. A lovely day for a drive down to Monterey was interrupted with short intervals of heavy, slashing rain that splattered hugely on my windshield as I drove merrily along. When I arrived on campus at California State University, Monterey Bay the rain had stopped and the sun was doing its best to make up for the poor manners of those pesky rainclouds. I know we badly need rain here but is it too much to ask to not rain on my rugby? I parked in the designated parking lot and then walked across a rather large and empty parking lot that sits adjacent to the field. (Why is this lot not being used? I asked and received a rather apologetic and vague reply about it not being ready that ended with a shrug and “It’sFort Ord. What can you do?”) This was my first time at CSUMB and the field itself is wonderful with goalposts and perfectly drawn lines – one of the many class venues that are cropping up at colleges across the region.
After putting my bags down and having a nice chat with Larry Freitas who had just finished the women’s game I scoped out the teams. CSUMB were eagerly warming up and engaging in the vaguely rugby related activities that teams do as they start to prepare while UoP seemed to be a little short of numbers. The coach admitted that many of their players were late arriving and he hoped to have the full squad before the match kicked off. It was now a waiting game to see who would win the race – the players or the kickoff.
It turned out to be a tie, really. The match was delayed about 10 minutes with the full support of the CSUMB captain and UoP were able to start with a full side and the last remaining stragglers arriving at the pitch. This may have contributed to the fast start by the Otters as 10 minutes in Pacific were penalized near midfield and the alert scrumhalf tapped quickly and took off completely unnoticed by the Tiger defense as they had all turned their backs to the ball when retreating 10 meters. The centered try was dutifully converted by the Otter’s flyhalf (English, I think?) who has a very unusual, yet very effective kicking style. CSUMB were able to get 2 more converted tries on the board before UoP rallied back with one of their own after the Monterey #13 was sin binned for repeated team infringements. With the score 21-7 and the teams back at full strength UoP started really pressing hard with several very clever sniping runs from their scrumhalf. A kick over the top led to a Keystone Kops routine by the CSUMB back three as they didn’t seem to want to clear the ball and were eventually forced back into their own try zone for a 5 meter scrum. UoP won their feed and drove for the line only to be held up in goal – another 5 meter scrum. CSUMB defended well for the next several minutes but eventually gave up a try that went unconverted. The break saw the score at 21-12 to the home side.
The second half continues the theme of the first half with back and forth action from both sides. The UoP scrumhalf continued to find gaps on the fringes and whenever the Monterey fullback touched the ball he would take off on long, mazey runs through the defense. Tries were exchanged with CSUMB getting 2 of them (and one conversion finally missed) while UoP matched them exactly. With time running out Pacific was down by 9 and threw everything they had at the Otters. The pressure finally told and a try was well and truly earned but the steady ticking of the clock meant that the conversion was the final act and an exciting game ended 33-31 to the relieved home side. The weather priestess, after making sure that the rugby match was uninterrupted by precipitation relaxed a bit and allowed another brief, yet intense, shower on the way home.
|University of Pacific||31|