Justice is Served! Edwards and Breytenbach prove Justice is a Dish best served Old…
Courtesy of Joey Romo
In the days leading up to Saturday’s playoff clash with the Pasadena Rugby Club, the buzzword in the San Diego Old Aztecs locker room was revenge. It was only fitting, as a path to the Southern California Championship would very likely have to pass through Pasadena, Las Vegas, and Oceanside, each team representing the Aztecs only losses on the season. While the younger millennials on the team were trying to get #RevengeTour trending on Twitter, Co-Captain Lucas Edwards, Esquire had a different concept in mind; Justice.
The 10th-year second rower was kind enough to sit down with KUSI news between court sessions on the Wednesday leading up to the game. “The Pasadena loss last week has caused our team irreparable pain and suffering, and has damaged our reputation. I will not rest until we have brought them to justice”. Nicknamed “The Prosecutor” by his teammates, Edwards is known as much for his veracity on the field as he is in the courtroom. “When I look at the facts of the match, we have established a motive to beat Pasadena, we have several key players willing to commit, and when the facts are laid to bare, I believe that the verdict will be decided in our favor.”
The controversial pre-game interview certainly drew plenty of attention from both sides, and added to the buzz that surrounded Encanto Park on Saturday, as the two teams met in the first round of So Cal D II Playoffs.
In the first half the Old Aztecs defense was tested early and often, as the Pasadena attack continually badgered the OAs by keeping possession, and playing inside the OA 22 meter-line. The Aztecs defense proved staunch, however, as they only conceded a penalty kick for the first 39 minutes of the game.
Although the OA defense held strong in the 1st half, the offense was struggling, as they conceded several unforced errors, and turned the ball over at the break down. The lone offensive highlight in the first half occurred in the 16th minute when Malaetasi Toilolo rumbled through the Pasadena defensive line, and inside the 5 meter line. From there the backs put it away, as fullback Connor Mariani dotted down the first try of the day and winger James Niblock hit the conversion. In the 37th minute Pasadena punched in a try off a 5 meter maul to make the half time score 8-7.
At halftime Head Coach Jarrod Faul preached discipline and ball retention, urging his side to cut out the 50-50 passes. Unfortunately for Faul, it did not initially appear that his team took the message to heart as the OAs got off to a nightmarish start to the second half. Almost immediately after the second half kickoff, the Aztecs threw an intercept ball to Pasadena #10 Cameron Wall, who took it 60 meters, untouched, to the try zone. Like any truly scary nightmare, the Aztecs could seem to wake from it, as a mere 12 minutes later they surrendered yet another intercept ball to Wall, who this time popped the ball off to teammate Garrett Manoukian.
The Old Aztecs suddenly found themselves, down 20-7, with only 20 minutes to go, and their championship aspirations hanging in the balance. It was at this point when “The Prosecutor” Edwards rallied the team and took to the field to lay out their final argument of the game. Edwards and co-counsel Bill Dow put the pressure on the Pasadena side with several hard hitting clear outs at the break down, while #10 Mike Deel and the back-line were able exploit several holes in the opponent’s defense. The Aztecs attack had gained continuity, and they seemed to have the home-side on the back-foot.
In the 63rd minute the OAs called their version of a surprise witness, as scrum half Jaco Breytenbach hit blindside flanker Joe Ramonas on an inside ball off the back of the scrum. The move shocked the ladies and gentlemen of the jury, and the Pasadena sideline moved to object the try, on the grounds of being held up. After a short deliberation with the AR, the Head Referee overruled the objection and awarded the try. The conversion attempt was no good.
From there Edwards and the OA attack smelled blood, and continued to prod the defending Pasadena side. In the 69th minute, it was a nice, clinical try from Outside Center Sione Letoi that pulled Aztecs with 3 points of finishing off the comeback.
In the final 10 minutes of the match, every single spectator was on their feet, holding their breath, living and dying with every phase. Finally, in the 73rd minute, OA cornerstone, Jaco Breytenbach, sporting his Robert DeNiro inspired mohawk, dummied a pass from the back of ruck, cut hard inside, and scampered through the A gap. Pinning his ears back, Breytenbach, kicked it into high gear 15 meters away from the try line, making one former clubmate’s defense look a lot less like Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq., and a lot more like Donnell Washington in….rugby. He was tripped up just shy of the goal line, but he was able to reach out and slam the ball home for the go-ahead try. The Pasadena faithful fell silent, unable to process the disappearance of their 13 point lead, which they had held only 10 minutes prior. They could only watch, as Breytenbach’s conversion sailed through the uprights, making the score 24-20 in favor of the Old Aztecs.
When the final whistle blew, it was Edwards, who stood tall amongst the celebration, wearing a smile of righteous resignation. “I have always had faith in our system,” said Edwards after the game, “There were some moments where I began to doubt if we would be able to pull it off, but the team believed in our cause, and I do believe that justice has been served.”
The win means the #RevengeTour marched on, as the Old Aztecs looked to face the Las Vegas Irish in Las Vegas. When asked for his thoughts on the game in Vegas, Edwards, instead, gave a gambling tip. It should be no surprise that his pick for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby is the #7 horse, named: Justify.