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Danville Wins NorCal Bowl Over Heart-Heavy Jesuit

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Danville Wins NorCal Bowl Over Heart-Heavy Jesuit

Danville players all smiles with their trophy. Michael Walker photo.

It was a very tough week for Jesuit of Sacramento and their rugby team, and the week ended with less celebration than perhaps they needed, but that's life—sometimes you have tog out and do the thing when the circumstances are poor.

So it was that the Danville Oaks, primed as they were to win the Northern California Premier Bowl, put in a strong performance to beat their rivals 43-32.

For Jesuit, the death of a student early in the week and the death of a teammate's mother the days before put a serious pall over the day. That is fully understandable and the players worked hard to play, but it was with heavy hearts.

"I'm just proud that the kids were able to get on the field and compete," said Jesuit Head Coach Andrew Acosta.

This is to take nothing away from the Oaks, who played one of their best games of the season. 

Within the first 2 minutes the Oaks set a maul off of a 5-meter lineout in Jesuit territory. After a Jesuit high tackle, the Oaks quick tapped and Nate Comiskey broke free to race down the sideline to score. Oaks 5-0. Jesuit replied with two converted tries to take a 14-5 lead before Danville responded—Seamus Deely capping off a sustained pressure with a pick-and-five.

Jesuit then started to get into penalty trouble and eventually the number of infringements led to a yellow card. The Oaks took advantage. Hooker Ofa Hingano worked his way around Jesuit defenders to score, set up by a Nico Jimenez run and pass. Tucker Barth made the conversion for a 17-14 Danville lead. The Oaks struck again off a counterattack from within their half—Comiskey took a Jesuit kick, passed to Barth, who carried the ball 30 meters before passing back to Comiskey for the try. Barth made the conversion and Danville led 24-14. Jesuit struck back with their excellent flyhalf, Fletcher Popp, streaking through a gap and touching down to make it 24-19 at halftime.

The Oaks started the second half quickly, working their way inside Jesuit territory and putting the ball through the hands for wing Diesel Pribble to finish off. Barth's conversion made it a 12-point lead at 31-19. Danville scored the next one, too, with a nifty run from prop Mitch Bruno setting up a charge from wing Greg Leitch. A Jesuit penalty and eventually No. 8  Peter Callahan who bowled over from the try; 36-19 Oaks.

Jesuit responded with sustained pressure inside the Oaks 22. A series of Danville infringements eventually led to a penalty try to Jesuit to make it 36-26. The Marauders added a penalty to get within a score at 36-29.

The Oaks responded with pressure inside the Jesuit 22. Center Greg Leitch sent a long pass to wing Cade Reding, who scored in front of the post. Barth added the conversion to make it 43-29. Jesuit closed the game out with another long-range penalty goal.

This was the consolation championship in what is possibly the toughest league, top to bottom, in the country.