The Napa Stormers Rugby Club Varsity team continued their unbeaten start to the 2014 season with a convincing 38-7 win over Santa Rosa at Raiders Field in Napa on Sunday. In front of a crowd in excess of 300 who were basking in warm and sunny conditions the Stormers made the most of the good weather to play their expansive game. Strong defense has been a hallmark of the Stormers play and Cody Dusky, Mitch Spinelli and Shane Latrielle lead the line for the Stormers with excellent defensive tackling.
Junior Zach Gassner
opened the scoring with a breathtaking try from 55 yards utilizing his speed
and deceptive inside / outside swerve to out-think the Santa Rosa
defense. Senior Chad Frasier, given the task to crash and churn the
defense for the day, was rewarded with a try with his support play as he scored
out wide. Jared Reich converted from the wide angle to make it 12-0. Napa
conceded their first points of the season when Santa Rosa used the age-old
tactic of a high kick into the sun, which lead to them scoring a converted try
to bring the score to 12-7.
That was to be their only reward on a day dominated by the Stormers forward pack, the engine room of the team wearing down Santa Rosa by going through multiple phases with the ball in hand. Frasier lead the pack in attack after bruising attack on the Santa Rosa defense and their reward was a penalty that was driven over the line for try by Prop Trevor Pappas. The Stormers went to the half-time break 17-7 ahead.
The second half entertained the large crowd further as Spinelli scored a try out wide capping off a 60 yard solo attack by Pappas. Midway through, captain Bernard Venter's charge was heard from the sidelines as he bulldozed his way to the try-line and scored in convincing fashion. Abel Rueda provided plenty of motivation for the team with his signature scything runs. Sam Cook, Alex Damien and Nolan Kelnhofer (making his first varsity start) were ever present in support of the Stormers attacking play. To round off a great team performance Luke Kampton scored the Stormers last try with a blindside sprint down the field and Reich converted all three of the second half tries.
“The Stormers controlled the game overall
and we’re very happy with the performance. Given that we’re still early in the
season and taking into consideration that half of the team are new this year
we’re plating very well” said Stormers Varsity Head Coach Phil Hansel, “We
still have work to do, the next few weekends will be away games and will not be
easy. The other Redwood Empire teams will be ready for us and we expect them to
be serious competition playing on their home turf.” Continued Hansell "The
community support was amazing and the young men really appreciated the efforts
of the locals who came out today to Raiders Field”
In keeping with tradition, the two teams met in midfield to celebrate the days contest. Santa Rosa awarded the St. Helena Optometry Men of the Match award to Whitecotton and Rueda, players of the day for their consistent work ethic.
After the Varsity game the Junior Varsity (JV) team hosted a three-way short format tournament in the absence of a league game. The Stormers hosted two of the big names in Bay Area rugby with the Marin Highlanders and San Francisco Golden Gate (SFGG) traveling to Raiders Field. The Stormers JV team played each of the visiting teams twice in a single half 15 minute game. As a result of the short games the intensity levels were high with the warm weather encouraging all of the teams to spread the ball wide and allow their back lines opportunities to show their skills.
The Stormers outplayed the Highlanders in both of their games and while scores were not kept Napa scored 4 tries with a penetrating try for Evan Cook being the highlight of Napa’s scores as he cut the Highlanders defense apart. The front row for Napa lead by Roman Ruffino, Manny Vassos, and Peter Stoppello were dominant in the scrum and in the loose were the recycled their own possession excellently and scavenged for the occasional turnover with vigor.
The Stormers certainly met their match in their games against SFGG and barely made it out of their own half in both games. A simple but effective tactic from SFGG of giving the ball to their strong and powerful front row to carry through multiple phases was met with strong tackling from the Stormers with Anton Venter in particular making tackle after tackle. The Stormers were better prepared for the second of their 2 games against SFGG and were able to nullify the SFGG “Route 1” tactic with a fine display of solid tackling and a well-organized defense.
“The JV team played really well today” said Stormers JV Head Coach Barend Venter “as they were up against kids who have been playing rugby some since they were 8 years old. Most of our JV boys are new to rugby this season so to come out on top of an established club like Marin and stand our ground against an excellent team like SFGG was very heartening”
The next scheduled games for the Stormers are this Saturday, March 1 as Napa heads south to their rivals Marin, a perennial powerhouse, for a 1p.m. Varsity and 2.30p.m. JV kickoff at Redwood High School in Larkspur. For more information on results and the 2014 schedule please visit napastormers.com/ - !schedule-and-results/c1x9v.
—Napa Stormers Rugby Club