Match Report: Giltinis glow with four tries in Cali Cup win

2 months ago

The LA Giltinis clicked back to form with a 26-13 victory over the San Diego Legion to retain the Cali Cup and cement their rugby dominance in southern California.

It was a Saturday afternoon that head coach Stephen Hoiles billed as a final and the Giltinis delivered to claw up the standings in Major League Rugby.

The defending champions rise to 3-3 after knocking the now 4-3 Legion from second spot in the Western Conference.

It took both grit and some of the Giltinis’ best attack of the season to subdue the willing Legion by four tries-to-one at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The contest was only settled at the 71-minute mark when prop Marco Fepulea’i plunged over for the final try after a relentless build-up.

It was a perfect snapshot of the impact from the Giltinis bench. A pinpoint high kick was put up by scrumhalf Tas Smith. Cristian Rodriguez leapt to seize the kick in a forest of big bodies, flanker Angus Cottrell made a key pick-and-go and Fepulea’i was over on the next.

The quartet were all replacements and built on the strong first half start that the Giltinis were chasing.

Only a possible knee injury to key backrower Cottrell after a big gallop in the final minute took gloss from the win.

Flyhalf Orene Ai’i played for a strong 55 minutes. He may be running on 42-year-old legs but he still has a chessmaster’s mind with the rugby nous of a prime time player.

The Giltinis started at a furious pace. A knock-on in a slick set play off a lineout and an intercepted pass tripped up two strong raids in the opening 10 minutes.

When the opening try came, it was all to do with the extra urgency that the Giltinis were pouring into the game.

Flanker Hanco Germishuys charged down a Legion kick, regathered and gave winger Will Chambers the chance to cross for the first try.

The best touches of ageless flyhalf Ai’i were as slick as his new haircut which razored every lingering grey hair from his head.

After dishing off a series of neat inside passes earlier in the game, he was on the receiving end just before half-time.

He took the inside ball from centre Billy Meakes to slice over for a key try and the 12-3 half-time lead.

The score jumped to 19-3 at the 49-minute mark when more constant pressure paid off.

Ai’i had multiple touches, first in a loop play which ended with fullback Jordan Trainor drilled a good kick deep into Legion territory. Breakdown urgency gave the Giltinis the scrum feed. Ultimately, the Legion defence was so stretched that Germishuys could dot down for the try on the vacant short side of a ruck.

There were strong contributions across the park. Captain and lock Dave Dennis was always driving ahead, Ai’i was polished, Meakes was in everything as always, Chambers had his best game for the club, Germishuys was huge in big moments and Fepulea’i kept up the strong defence established by others early.

The Legion had risen to the rivalry tempo pre-match with a Facebook post: “Giltinis...We’ll Drink Your Martinis! #LegionStrong.”

It was only flat beer for the vanquished but the Legion do deserve full credit for turning this SoCal derby into a must-see clash every time.

"That was a good win. We were more clinical and respected the ball more which were two things we talked about in the lead-up," Hoiles said.

"The mood in the group has never been down. We've had disappointed players after the losses but they understand what they need to do to keep pushing forward."

"The Western Conference is heating up so we have to keep the improvements going. It's good to knock off a team ahead of us and we have that same challenge on the road against Seattle on Saturday."

"Joe Taufete'e pushed himself past 70 minutes. That was a strong game at hooker. What Orene is doing at 42 is very impressive. We managed him better (by playing him for 55 minutes) this week and we got some great energy from the bench too."

Hoiles confirmed that Cottrell would head for scans on a knee injury.

LA GILTINIS 26

Tries: Will Chambers (14min), Orene Ai’i (38), Hanco Germishuys (49), Marco Fepulea’i (71)

Conversion: Luke Burton (38, 49, 71)

Beat

SAN DIEGO LEGION 13

Try: Kainoa Lloyd (59)

Conversion: Joe Pietersen (59)

Penalty goal: Joe Pietersen (19, 64)

Half-time: 12-3 Giltinis

Venue: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

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