Both the U12 Boys and the U14 Boys from the Santa Monica Rugby Club won their semi-final matches on Saturday, advancing them to the Southern California Youth Rugby Championships next weekend in Fullerton.
The U12s hosted the Manhattan Beach Tykes, and a try by Jack Taylor-Gibb and two from Benny Gonda gave the Dolphins a 15-0 lead at the interval. After making substitutions in the second half, Santa Monica found the Tykes had crept back to 15-12. To seal the victory, Carter McNeill was able to score, and the try was converted by Sacha Frankfurt which the Dolphins triumphed 22-12.
The U14s traveled to Torrance to play the South Bay Spartans, number one seed in Southern California (and previously undefeated having scored 249 points and given up only 14 in five matches this season). The Dolphins scored early when flanker Tom Heaney ran under the opening kickoff and poached it from the Spartans, who then conceded two penalties ,which allowed Santa Monica to score a try by Nick Cardiel, then converted by Jamie Stewart..
Both teams showed fierce defense, but a charged-down clearing kick allowed South Bay to get back in the game, 7-5. South Bay struck again just before half time and the Dolphins found themselves down 10-7 at the interval.
The second half showed more defensive finesse from both teams, but Santa Monica found a way through the Spartan back line as Matthew “Miami” Cianfrone broke down the right wing, passed to flyhalf Hunter Feinberg, who then offloaded from a tackle to Daniel “Kentucky” Collins, who scored under the posts. Stewart again converted and the Dolphins found themselves up 14-10. Stewart later made a penalty kick, putting the Dolphins ahead 17-10.
Two minutes later the Spartans answered with another try, but were unable to convert. South Bay got the ball back one last time and camped out on the Dolphins’ 5-meter line for the last two minutes of the match. The Santa Monica defense held strong and when the final whistle blew it was 17-15 to Santa Monica.
The SCYR Championships will be held at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. Santa Monica U12s match up against Santa Clarita at 10 a.m. and U14s play Belmont Shore at 11:45 a.m.
Mirror Sports Editorsports@smmirror.com