The LA Giltinis ran in seven tries to crush the Dallas Jackals 47-7 with their most potent attacking performance of 2022 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum today.
A third straight win for the defending Major League Rugby champions lifted their record to 5-3 and into a prized top three spot in the Western Conference.
Ageless flyhalf Orene Ai’i was the classy ringmaster at 42 with his clever passing game while strong-running centre Ben LeSage made a superb return after mending a broken hand.
In the pack, prop Andrew Tuala charged over for two tries as the trimmings to his strong scrummaging. The bull-like charges of shaven-headed lock Luke White and his dominant tackling were key elements of the dominant Giltinis display.
As an extra bonus, Englishman Tom Mitchell made an encouraging comeback from hamstring surgery at fullback for the final 21 minutes. It was his first rugby in eight months since he finished his decorated rugby sevens career at the Tokyo Olympics.
The tone of the one-sided match was set after just two minutes when Belmont Shore Rugby Club’s Zach Bonte (below), at No.8, surged over off a neat pass from scrumhalf Tas Smith.
Smith’s quick tap from a scrum penalty soon after created space for neat-stepping fullback Jordan Trainor to join the backline. He put LeSage over to lift the score to 14-0.
The depleted Jackals showed spirit, even in defeat, after rushing in four new players acquired on short-term loan or trades. All were answering the SOS after the Jackals were rocked by injuries to 10 squad members in a recent walkway collapse.
Young Jackals fullback Eric Naposki, a UCLA alum, never stopped probing with his fine footwork and running that is destined to take him to higher levels.
The Giltinis will still be hard markers on themselves because poor ball security after several strong runs wasted several try-scoring opportunities. Twice, Ai’i failed to find the touchline from penalty kicks to touch.
Ai’i’s vintage touch came just before half-time off a rehearsed move from a scrum win. He delayed his silky soft short ball perfectly to feed winger Ryan James, who had dashed in from the blind wing. He ran over untouched to score the try for 28-7.
Tuala made a strong charge to open the second half but better was to come.
At the 54-minute mark, Ai’i put LeSage into a hole to get the team on attack again.
From that platform, Tuala charged over. At the 60-minute mark, he was over again with a pick-and-go following a strong White ball-carry earlier in the play.
Mitchell showed his counter-attacking skills when a gathered a Jackals’ chip-kick and scooted 40m upfield before losing control of the ball.
Santa Monica Rugby Club lock Sam Peri made his Giltinis debut for the final 13 minutes, flying winger Adam Channel ran in the final try on his return from sevens duty with the USA Eagles and replacement backrower Cyrille Cama made his presence felt with several strong runs in a brief cameo.
"Overall, we're pleased. We were playing against a wounded side but we racked up a lot of points and looked really good when we controlled the ball," Giltinis head coach Stephen Hoiles said.
"That was another strong game from Luke White and he made a few nice passes out the back as well. Orene looked comfortable and I'll keep saying it, that at 42, he sees a game like a lot of young flyhalves wish they could."
"Cyrille Cama, off the bench, was direct and physical as we wanted and giving Sam Peri his debut was another vote for LA club rugby providing players to this next level.On the defensive side, we really got our spacing right and there's credit in that to Ben LeSage, who is such a smart centre."
LA GILTINIS 47
Tries: Andrew Tuala (54 min, 60), Zach Bonte (2), Ben LeSage (9), Charlie Abel (25), Ryan James (37), Adam Channel (70)
Conversions: Luke Burton (2, 9, 25, 37, 60, 70)
DALLAS JACKALS 7
Try: Carl Hodgson (15)
Conversion: Adriaan Carelse (15)
Half-time: 28-7 Giltinis
Venue: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum