Going into Saturday’s home fixture against Ventura County Outlaws, let’s take a quick peek at what the Old Aztecs have been up to the last couple of weekends. First Vegas came to us (in the form of the Vegas Irish), and then we went to Vegas to support the USA Eagles!
Congratulations to the USA 7’s team on securing their first tournament victory of the Series, and the celebration was much needed after the heartbreak the prior weekend on the rugby pitch.
OA vs. Vegas Irish, Feb 24th: Playing against a side that had been on the road for over 5 hours, the Old Aztecs started with the intensity that would have been demanded from coach Jarrod Faul, absent for this game due to 7s coaching duties in Japan. And the home side went ahead within 5 minutes thanks to sharp link-up play between Michael Deel, Tim Howard and Des Wellington. Howard converted his own try from wide left. Just a few minutes later, that inside 3 connected again, Wellington rolling out the back to go in under the posts. The Old Aztecs continued to press with some nice phase play but were unable to make the most of this good spell with a third try, and in fact, it was Vegas Irish who broke from a scrum inside their own 22, to create an overlap in space and score through scrum half Dylan Martin. Vegas then capitalized on a mis-match on the right wing and Gregory Hutcherson finished clinically, leaving the Old Aztecs stunned to only have a 2-point lead to their name after a strong opening 20 minutes. Vegas Irish’s other winger would go on to give the visiting side the lead for the first time in the game, but an intercept from Deel immediately gave the Old Aztecs a 2-point lead, which they would ultimately bring into half time. However, a calf injury sustained to Howard, who had looked dangerous in possession, meant Connor Mariani would join Des Wellington in the centers for the second half. A breakaway from Vegas Irish early in the second half, and some extremely shoddy tackling from the Old Aztecs, culminated in a try under the posts for former NFL fullback Frank Summers, who proved to be unstoppable when given space to run. A penalty from replacement kicker Niblock narrowed the gap to 26-24, but Vegas found their way over the line yet again through their number 8, Veuki Taumoefolau, as the Old Aztecs desperately struggled to find the rhythm they had started this game with. Another give away penalty from Vegas allowed Old Aztecs to narrow the gap again, but Vegas were next on the scoresheet with 5 points again through substitute Curtis Montenegro. As the game entered the final quarter, Bill Dow stepped up with an excellent reach and finish for the second game in a row, and although the kick looked to have snuck inside the left-hand post, the flags stayed down and the Old Aztecs still trailed by 6. A controversial moment given the reduced height of the posts following the Surfers’ game which preceded. In the 71st minute, an indiscretion from Mariani meant his yellow was effectively a game ender, and with wingers Smith and Carter-Rimbach already having been replaced, and Howard and Deel both injured, forward Bryan Barnard was required to finish the game on the right wing. Constant possession from the Old Aztecs eventually led to a try wide left for Niblock, which he was unable to convert, leaving the score at 38-37. In 79th minute, with Old Aztecs desperate to get back down the field for the winner, Vegas seized hold of the ball and found their way over the line for a final time on a dreadful defensive day for the Aztecs. Even with less than a minute to play and only 14 men, it did always look possible that the Old Aztecs would grind out an ugly win, but on this day they lacked the composure and imagination to finish the job, their only consolation being 2 losing bonus points, which could prove critical at the end of the season. An entertaining and highly scoring contest ended 43-37 to Vegas, who should be congratulated for the way they worked themselves into the game after a difficult first quarter.
Next Up: Ventura County Outlaws
Saturday Mar 10, 12:00pm kickoff at Robb Field. 2nd Side vs Ventura B’s at 1:45pm.
Look for the Delbarton HS Boys team from Morristown, NJ cheering from the sidelines!!
Also, catch the players after the action at Wonderland Ocean Pub for the social, starting at 4:00pm.