The East Palo Alto Bulldogs surprised Olympic Club with a 58-29 defeat Saturday in the only league game in Northern California’s DI club competition.
Playing with the wind the Bulldogs only led by a try going into halftime, but simply outplayed an inexact Olympic Club team in the second half, punishing mistakes. Led by center and captain Jack Halalilo and with strong games from James Finau and Samisoni Pone, the Bulldogs handled the ball better and won the battle at the breakdown to win handily in the end.
“We had two good practices leading up to this,” said Olympic Club Head Coach Ray Lehner. “But we had a 20-minute period where we couldn’t do anything right. And EPA is a good team, and they punished our mistakes.”
The key for the Bulldogs, said team spokesperson Iuna Telefoni, was the B-side match. Played before the A-side game, this was also won by East Palo Alto, and it gave the first team confidence.
“Olympic Club is the best club in Northern California, so when our guys won the B game our A-side guys said, hey, we can do the same,” said Telefoni. “They just played well; they played for each other, played as a team, and listened to their coach. They were just very determined.”
Lehner said his team’s lineout was solid, but other areas of the game need work, and giving up 58 points wasn’t what he wanted to see.
The result throws the NorCal season into a wide open race. EPA and the Sacramento Lions are tied now at 2-0. San Mateo, who lost in a friendly to Provo Saturday, Olympic Club, SFGG, and the EPA Razorbacks are all at 1-1.