Braving rain and wind, the Napa Stormers lived up to their name while defeating the Lobos of Santa Rosa’s Elsie Allen High School, 10-0, in a nail-biting showdown of forward power on Sunday at Vintage High.

There were only two 5-point tries, one in the first 35 minutes by prop Trevor Pappas and one in the second half by Abel Rueda, who was inspirational all day with telling runs. Both tries came after several phases of play utilizing the whole team, with rucking and mauling wearing the competition down.

Playing in torrential conditions made it nearly impossible to move the ball, so the backline joined the forwards driving the ball in hand and taking it into contact, gaining yard by yard. The forward pack set plays (scrums and line-outs) were exceptional and dominated the Lobos, providing a high percentage of turnovers and enabling the Stormers to attack and prevented the Lobos from gaining momentum.

The backline defense was solid, with Chad Frasier thwarting numerous attacks, and with a high percentage of first-line defense the Lobos were forced to kick the ball. The pressure was seriously on Stormers full-back Zack Gassner, wingers Shane Latrielle and Tarik Fahmy to control up-and-under kicks from the Lobos. It was no easy feat, but they defused their attack and offensive strategy.

Stormers captains Bernard Venter and Luke Kampton led their team with passion and maintained discipline and focus, which under such extreme conditions was the key to winning.

The coaching staff has been very impressed with the progress of the Stormers, more than half of whom are in their first years of the sport and learning it quickly.

“We have a good foundation to build on but they still have a lot to learn, which is exciting,” assistant coach Jack Emerson said. “The Lobos are a very strong team, with a long history of  exceptional rugby players. They will be ready to see us again on their home turf in a few weeks.”

Abel Rueda and Luke Kampton were named this week’s Ghilotti Bros., Inc. “Men Of The Match” for their outstanding play.

The Stormers’ varsity team is fired-up and looking forward to its upcoming trip to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara this weekend. The team will play a few friendly games against teams from those cities, and also watch a college rugby match between UC Santa Barbara — which features Napa High graduate Tyler Hansell — and Sacramento State. The Stormers will also meet the teams and take a tour of UCSB campus.

The next home game for the Stormers, presented by the Napa Sheriff’s Activities League, will be Feb. 23 as both squads take on Santa Rosa at the Raiders field behind Redwood Middle School. The varsity game will be at 11 a.m., followed by the JV contest.

For more information about the Napa Stormers, visit www.napastormers.com or search for napastormers at www.facebook.com.

The Napa Stormers appreciate the sponsorship of sponsors Napa SAL, Ghilotti Bros. Contractors, St. Helena Optometry, Pilates Napa Valley, Blue Sky Utility, Napa Barrel Care, and Silverado Farming Company.

Founded in 2012, the Stormers are the first youth rugby club in the Napa Valley and have members from multiple high Schools in the valley. Contact Barend Venter at 266-4354 or barendven@gmail.com for more information about the club.

Stormers JV 58,

Elsie Allen 10

The Napa Stormers Rugby Club JV team kicked off its inaugural season in style with a huge win over Elsie Allen High School on Sunday at Vintage High School.

The game saw the next generation of Stormers play what was for many of them their first rugby game. With driving rain and tough conditions underfoot, it was always going to be a hard, tight game. The forwards did the bulk of the work, going through multiple phases whenever the Stormers had possession.

The Stormers restricted Elsie Allen to two unconverted 5-point tries thanks to some solid defensive work in all areas, with solid tackling and aggressive play in the loose from the front five. The Stormers’ tactic of keeping the ball close to hand in the forwards paid handsome dividends, as they ended the game with the majority of the possession and territory.

“Men of the Match” performances from Manny Vassos and Theo Branum were well deserved, given the workload that each of the players got through. Branum also led the try count for the Stormers with three to his name, while scrum half Matt Hansell showed solid hands all afternoon and contributed two valuable tries. Six conversions from Caen Healy added to the Stormers’ final total.

“The club has come a long way in a very short space of time,” Napa Stormers coach Barend Venter said. “The coaching team is very impressed with how our JV team has worked in training and we saw the fruits of that hard work in their first-ever game. In terrible conditions for ball handling, they showed solid skills, great awareness and an awesome team spirit, supporting and talking each other up all through the game.

“We’re excited for the rest of the season for our JV team after such a strong showing on their debut.”

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