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Oceanside Chiefs 7-36 San Diego Old Aztecs

Saturday January 8, 2022

Oceanside Chiefs 7-36 San Diego Old Aztecs

February 22nd, 2020. That was the last time an Old Aztecs’ D2 team suited up together for a competitive fixture. Fast forward almost two years, and seven members of that team would start again on Saturday, as a much-anticipated 2022 season began in Carlsbad on Saturday. A nice blend of serious OA stalwarts (Guerrero having just celebrated his 39th birthday, would go again!) with new additions, made up the 23. Nate Muir, Connor McNerney, Samson Tai, Max Pion-Kentel and Garrett Reynolds are all excellent additions from the 7s season. Supporters should watch out for McNerney in particular, the 2018 winner of the Scholz Award, which goes to the top men's college rugby player.

It has been a sad end to 2021 and start to 2022 for the club, having tragically lost a former player close to so many of us, Bobby ‘Lightning’ Iaulualo. The team vows to play with the positive spirit that he embodied, and to lift each other up with the infectious positivity that we all think of when we think of Bobby and his smile.

The Chiefs, having been such a force during the 7s season, were an unknown prospect for the Old Aztecs. The home side dominated possession for the first 10 minutes but coughed up a couple of decent opportunities, allowing the OAs to find their way into the game. Tries from Anthony Leyva (nicely assisted by twin Daniel) and Mike Deel, along with a penalty kick from James Niblock, gave the OAs a 15-0 lead after 20 minutes, which possibly did not reflect the run of play, but was a demonstration of how clinical an OA team with an in-form at the helm Deel can be. Oceanside were able to pull a try back through the consistent effort of their forwards, but Jeff Diggs scored a classically opportunistic try with a sneaky pick and go and finish down the left hand side of the field. 22-7 was the half-time score. As they opted to do all game, the OAs took a simple 3 points from another penalty infringement just moments into the 2nd half. Niblock then got over for his 50th competitive try for the club, following a Connor Mariani line break where multiple defenders were beaten, a good support from lock Muir. The remainder of the game saw the Old Aztecs continue to soak up much Oceanside possession, but without ever being truly threatened. Deel knocked over 2 further penalties to leave the final score at 36-7.

While the possession statistics will be of some concern to the OAs, the overall feeling was that a bonus point win away from home after almost two years away, in what will be a very tough pool, was a more than satisfactory outcome for week one.

Plenty to work on for the boys at Robb Field this week, in preparation for an away day in Long Beach, versus Belmont Shore. We expect a minute's silence in memory of Bobby, who played for both clubs.

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