The LA Sharks and LA Outlaws officially began the SCAFL metro season at Ryan Bonaminio Park in Riverside on Sunday morning.
At 10 AM, the Outlaws began their clash with the hosting Riverside Eagles. From the opening bounce, the Outlaws showed intense pressure around the ball, making strong tackles and getting the ball to their playmakers. Forward Pat Nicholls was the man of the hour again, kicking a bag of seven on the day as the Outlaws built a strong early lead.
The Outlaws were fundamentally sound all over the ground despite slippery conditions. Lani Silvio filled in admirably, roving between midfield and the forward line and making smart decisions with the footy. Andrew Loewen had a very nice day in the backline, taking numerous intercept marks and setting the tempo for the players ahead of him. Rick Shaibani and Will Crandall were involved in both attack and defense, providing good tackling pressure. American veteran Bill McGovern had another nice outing, booting two goals on the day, as did Aussie newcomer David Higgs.
The Eagles showed admirable grit in the second half, despite the Outlaws’ commanding lead. Classy midfielder Joe Silvio was always involved around the contest, while Darrin Olsen and Brian Cummins used their experience to their advantage whenever possible. Some unsung heroes for the Outlaws also included Aussie recruit Phil Boyd and American veteran Chris Adams, who put their hands up and contributed nicely in their first games of the year. Ultimately, the Outlaws prevailed 14.6.90 to 2.1.13.
In game two, the LA Sharks took on a rejuvenated San Diego Lions side. The Sharks enlisted the help of several Outlaws due to lack of numbers, and also welcomed back youngster John Rosmalen Jr., who hadn’t played in nearly a year.
The first half of the game was a highly-contested affair in the first half with the Lions up by 3 goals. However, several injuries and many Outlaws who covered had to depart, leaving the Sharks with no bench cover. On return from the half time break, the Lions were sharp straight out of the gate and socred consistently, despite the heroic efforts of several Sharks, including Loewen at fullback, ruckman Dennis Boyle, and small forward Julian de Vizio. Both Joe Silvio and Paul Ioakim battled hard in the midfield, but the Lions used some clever ball movement and kicking to hold a commanding lead at three-quarter time. Despite the scoreboard differential, the Sharks didn’t quit and played on despite injury concerns. In the end, the Lions took home a 90-point win.
Next, the Outlaws and Eagles will head south to Irvine on Saturday, May 19th. The Eagles will face San Diego, while the Outlaws will play the Orange County Bombers for the first time this season. The Sharks will have a bye week.