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Pen Green, Jesuit Enjoy Strong KOT Weekend

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Pen Green, Jesuit Enjoy Strong KOT Weekend

Peninsula Green rattled off six wins against one loss this past weekend at the Kickoff Tournament in Sacramento, but still found a formidable opponent in longstanding NorCal power Jesuit HS.

The results are a message that Pen Green could be a real player in the Northern California Premier. 

Even though Pen Green was missing U20 All American Bo Mailau due to other commitments, as well as several other key players due to a football awards banquet, the team played tough rugby against a strong Jesuit team and almost took home the championship trophy.

The Championship game against Jesuit was a nailbiter (although only 30 minutes in length). Jesuit looked very strong at the start as their backs ran at the Pen Green backs, pounding the Beavers and eventually scoring a try without a conversion, to go up 5-0.  Within a few minutes Jesuit kicked a penalty from 20 meters out to make the score 8-0.  With ten minutes gone in the first half the Pen Green team caught fire and attacked with well executed forward and back play.  The Beavers controlled possession and Jesuit retreated until Alex Lopeti stepped and bulled his way to score under the posts with Luke Rafaelli adding the conversion to make it 8-7.  After a few more attacking plays, Jesuit was penalized and Rafaelli split the uprights from 30 meters out. The half ended with the score 10-8 in favor of the Beavers. 

Within two minutes from the start of the second half, Beaver star Faitala (Tala) Talapusi snaked through from the fullback position and intercepted a Jesuit pass. It was clear sailing to try time, but he was not able to hang on to the wet and muddy ball. The play went back and forth for a few minutes more until Tala received a yellow card for a late hit.

The Beavers made several goalline stands with 14 players, but Jesuit eventually got over the line and scored. Talapusi was able to get back on the field after a long period in the sin bin, just in time for Jesuit to get a yellow card. Jesuit, however, held on for the 13-10 win.

In the earlier games, Pen Green defeated Mother Lode and Solo, while Jesuit defeated Solo and Santa Monica. 

Against Mother Lode, Pen Green got a big game from Jake Erickson but Mother Lode hung tough until late in the second half when the Beavers scored twice to win it 15-5. DJ Monroe, with his solid tackling, aggressive running, and poaching multiple balls, was named the player of the game.

Pen Green Coach Rob Benson described the Beaver play in the first half of the next game against Solo RFC “as the best 15 minutes of Beaver rugby I have witnessed.”  The Beavers maintained almost 90% ball possession, with accurate passes, pounding north-south runs, and sure ball-handling despite the muddy conditions.   

Solo didn't play poorly but the Falcons just couldn't get their hands on the ball. Pen Green led 14-0 at halftime and that was also the final score, as the game ended early due to an injury to a Solo player. Peninsula Green scrumhalf Luca Gillespie-Brown was hard to stop and was the player of the game.

For Jesuit, the tournament was a success, giving the players a chance to get on the field after trainings had been interrupted due to all the rain in California this month.

Head Coach John Shorey said it was a good final game for so early.

"Pen Green are loaded and they look the part," said Shorey. "It's preseason for both of us. It was a good test and a chance to eyeball each other."

Jesuit fullback George Neithammer came back for this season bigger and faster and looked very good. Garrett Kay is a solid flanker who is also a bit bigger and a hard worker. They led the team nicely, and Connor Bellinger moved from prop to lock, and Carlos Ramirez at scrumhalf set the tone.

"We've got a very athletic, fast bunch of juniors," said Shorey. "We're really excited about what we've got coming up the pipeline. Eventually I think we'll be pretty good." 

Pen Green's JV team beat Mother Lode 28-0, Solo 20-0, and Jesuit 15-0. They were led by Alani Langi and Roan Polivarti.

Their Varsity B team played the Sac Eagles and won 17-0.