On wet and windy day in at Treasure Island in San Francisco, SFGG sloshed to a 23-9 victory over the Denver Barbarians Saturday at Ray Sheeran Field.
Discipline challenges prevented the home side from achieving a bonus point win, quite achievable despite the weather.
Denver’s only points came from the boot of scrumhalf Maximo De Achaval, and all within the first 40. Gate would score three tries on the day, two from lock Brendan Daly, and one from center Samisoni Pone. SFGG fullback Andre Coquillard converted one and kicked two more penalties.
SFGG unveiled a new flyhalf, with Volney Rouse still out with the flu. Tai Enosa, who has played that position for both the USA 7s and 15s team, is usually known as a running flyhalf, but won the tactical kicking battle, and made so many tackles, the Denver backline seemed powerless.
The weather conditions became a huge factor in the second half, the only scoring from Coquillard’s boot, as Gate lived inside Denver’s half. Unfortunately, a high tackle from winger Nu’u Aiava resulted in a melee late in the game, with referee Aruna Ranaweera issuing a yellow card for Aiava and a ref to prop Mosese Atiola for being the third man in.
Denver’s de Achaval started the scoring with a penalty at the 7th minute. Penalties continued for both sides, and it was a Denver infraction that led to an SFGG lineout and the ensuing maul took Daly over for the try.
De Achaval slotted a second penalty at 14 minutes, and then at 21 minutes, Mose Timoteo sniped up the very short side of a ruck, popping to Daly back towards the pile of bodies. Daly had three to beat, and did so. In nearly the same place, after consistent phase play, Pone beat a prop caught in the backline to make it 17-6.
De Achaval would get the last points of the first half, after No. 8 Tom Rooke was shown yellow for infringement. Unfortunately for Denver, it would be their last points scored on the day.
The second half was all Gate territorially. The weather improved to a hard rain moving across the pitch, and scrummaging was near constant. Neither tryline was crossed, although Enosa looked in at one point but was called harshly for using a teammate as a blocker. Coquillard slotting penalties at 53 and 65 minutes. Denver either kicked away its possession without good pursuit, or lost ball in contact, while Enosa used his kicking to pin Denver back, or send one of his centers through. But Golden Gate just could not find that gap for the bonus point try.
Tries: Daly 2, Pone
Pens: Coquillard 2
Denver Barbarians 9
Pens: de Achaval 3