Both sides had mirroring records entering this past weekend’s fixture, so it was always going to be an intriguing encounter and useful early season barometer at Valley Middle School, Carlsbad. The Old Aztecs had enjoyed a bye week following a strong home win against Back Bay, and perhaps this was evident in the early stages, as they struggled to find their rhythm. It wasn’t until 15 minutes in that the OId Aztecs began to enjoy some continuity and consistent territory, eventually earning themselves the opening try due in part to a bizarre moment from the Chiefs defense, as they allowed Joe Ramonas to power through unopposed from a lineout. Perhaps eager to prevent a re-occurrence, an Oceanside forward was sin binned for dragging Ramonas down early in a similarly positioned linout. Not long after, good pressure from Joe Wesolek forced a turnover on the Chiefs 22, and Lucas Edwards was able to coolly hand the stolen ball to Jeff Diggs, who ran in to give the Old Aztecs a 10-0 lead (Tim Howard converting to make it 12-0). Ironically, it was the 14 men of Oceanside who exerted their dominance for the first time in the game and after several minutes of pressure, prop Shane Mila charged over, leaving the half time score at 12-7.
Oceanside went on to take the lead in the 48th minute with a well-worked try in the midfield, finished by centre Ah San Salesa. A penalty in the 64th minute extended their lead. A frustrating period for the Old Aztecs was made even more difficult when try scorer Diggs was sent to the sin bin, and the Old Aztecs found themselves still trailing by 5 going into the 79th minute. With their forward pack of 8 replenished, the Old Aztecs toiled close to the line and it was Bill Dow who managed to work his arms into the right position to finish excellently, just to the right side of the posts, allowing a simple conversion from Howard to restore the Old Aztecs’ lead with only a minute left on the clock. It was fitting that 3 different forwards provided the tries on this day, when things didn’t quite click for the full 15. Final Score: 19-17. Men of the match were Bill Dow and Des Wellington.
During the A side game, Mike Ducey could be seen running his customary pre-game sprints into the wind around the perimeter of the field, and perhaps this demonstration of intensity was a teaser for what was to follow in the B side game.
The home side started well and were the first on the scoreboard through center Lauina Tuaato, but Old Aztecs began to move through the phases and were rewarded with a try from right wing Jason Inbody. Five minutes later Erik Zentz picked up off the back of a scrum and put the Old Aztecs into the lead. The game ebbed and flowed with both sides playing some positive rugby, until Anthony Leyva, who had also featured in the first game, showed great evasiveness to score, following a quick tap penalty from JD (Frenchy) Garcia. This left the half time score at 15-7 to the Old Aztecs.
A second try from Tuaato brought Oceanside right back into the game, before his center partner Allan Alvarez got in on the scoring action to give the Chiefs a lead with 10 minutes to go. Tuaato completed his hat trick moments later, and Oceanside looked destined for victory, with the score at 24-15. However in an explosive 2 minutes, substitute Chris Hedum, fondly nicknamed as Malibu, blasted through to score 2 tries, one of which would be converted, and give the B side a dramatic late victory, just as in the first game. This was a highly entertaining game, with some excellent offloading on display. Final Score: 29-25. Men of the match were Shawn Price and Chris Hedum.
Thank you to Oceanside for hosting an enjoyable after match at Best Pizza & Brew.