Santa Rosa won its way to a second-consecutive DII Final Four by ousting Pasadena 17-15 Saturday in Irving, Texas. The Pacific Coast runners-up needed a converted score near the 75th minute to secure the win.
Santa Rosa led 7-0 at halftime, but Pasadena tied the game at the onset of the second stanza. The clubs traded penalties and were again knotted at 10-10.
With about 10 minutes left on the clock, Pasadena took its first lead of the game when a wing chipped ahead and scooped up his own kick for a try in the corner. The conversion was missed, making it 15-10.
Santa Rosa got an attacking scrum and made the most of it, scoring off of a set play. No. 8 Robert Meeson started the movement and passed to wing AJ Gutierrez, who dished it back inside to openside Kobus Grobbelaar for a try under the posts.
With a strong crosswind, centering the conversion attempt was important. Santa Rosa coach Alan Petty credits the experience and savvy of his players for making the kick as makeable as possible.
“The three guys that touched the ball, all played high school ball for me back in 2004/2005. These are experienced rugby guys. They knew the importance. The wind was incredible,” said Petty.
“I saw [Grobbelaar] go towards the middle. I was just worried he’d take one too many steps toward the middle and the ball would rip out of his hands, but these are experienced guys.”
The conversion was slotted, and Santa Rosa rode out the last five minutes to take the win.
Petty was complimentary of the opposing flyhalf, Scotty Chambers.
“His foot kept them in our half a lot. He’s a good solid, player,” said Petty. “And their forward pack, we’re a great scrummaging team, and we couldn’t steal a strike against the head against them, and that doesn’t happen very often. Good team. Well coached.”
Santa Rosa is set to face Wisconsin, also returning to the Final Four from last year, in the semifinals in Glendale, Colo. June1.