Saturday, April 30, 2016

Preview: Ohio Opens At Home Against San Francisco

By Derek Sagehorn

San Francisco travels over 2000 miles today for tomorrow’s clash against Ohio. A long trip for the young team, San Francisco is also seeking that elusive first win. The home-opener for the Ohio boys will be also be an opportunity for redemption as they left at least three ties ungrounded on the opening weekend in Denver.

Coach Paul Keeler has ringed in changes in the front row, dropping Maka Tameilau and Jacob Finau to the bench after poor first-half performances against Denver. In their place is Niko Lolohea and Tom Coolican. Coolican played well in his start against Sacramento and second-half appearance against Denver. Lolohea will be making his first start in the competition and has an opportunity to establish himself as a purposeful scrummager. On loan from Sacramento, Richard Knight starts at lock—allowing Siupeli Sakalia to slot into his more natural backrow spot. Sam Finau slides to openside flanker to cover for the injured Alec Gletzer, while David Tameilau stays on at number eight. In the backs, two changes for City: Volney Rouse for Nick Blevins and Pila Inogi taking Rouse’s place on the right wing.

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For Ohio, coach Paule Barford Angus MacLellan, Peter Malcolm and Jamie Mackintosh in the front row. MacLellan and Mackintosh are threats for San Francisco’s front row, but Malcolm is still transitioning to hooker from his preferred flanker position. Pierce Dargan and Canadian flanker Kyle Baille suit up at lock for Ohio. The backrow consists of Italian Fillipo Ferrarini, Carolinian Matt Hughston and Chilean Sebastian Kalm. In the backs, Shaun Davies and JP Eloff continue their partnership at halfback while Roland Suniula works with Ahmad Haraijly in the centers. Davenport product Mason Baum appears on the left wing with Spike Davis retains his spot on the right. Zac Mizell will patrol the back for Ohio.

Ohio has had two weeks to lick their wounds from their close loss in Denver and prepare for this match. In addition, they will be aware of San Francisco’s deficiencies in the scrum. They have potent front-rowers on the bookends who can disrupt San Francisco’s pack. In sport, when a weakness becomes evident other teams will pile on to exploit it. Here, San Francisco will need to stay tight and not get pushed back in the scrum. Enrique “TOPO” Rodriguez, author of The Art of Scrummaging and prop capped for Argentina and Australia, lists four preconditions to winning scrums: 1. Technique; 2. Fitness; 3. Mental Attitude; and 4. Timing to “pull the trigger in unison.” Right now, the technique and fitness is there for San Francisco in spurts. But the mental attitude and unity is wholly absent. Sink or swim time.

Reports from the Denver game told that Ohio’s back three struggled to field and counter-kick for position. This is a weakness that the very capable San Francisco wings and fullback can exploit. As much as San Francisco enjoys playing open rugby, the ability to keep Ohio pinned back in its half will dramatically improve their chances.

Watch out for the contest between halfbacks. Davies and Eloff have an easy partnership, but they will be forced to tackle big San Francisco runners like David Tameilau and Sam Finau. Likewise, Orene Ai’I and Michael Reid must maintain a consistent pattern for San Francisco for 80 minutes, not the just the first 25.

Based on the travel, preparation and a keen tighthead in Mackintosh, Ohio over San Francisco by eight.

San Francisco

Forwards: Niko Lolohea, Tom Coolican, Patrick Latu, Siaosi Mahoni, Richard Knight, Siupeli Sakalia, Sam Finau, David Tameilau

Backs: Michael Reid, Orene Ai'i, Jack O'Hara, Martini Talapusi, Volney Rouse, Pila Iongi, Jake Anderson

Bench: Jacob Finau, Fancy Namulauulu, Maka Tameilau, Codi Jones, Charles Mateo, Naibuka Tarwake, Junior Helu, Isaac Helu


Forwards: Angus MacLellan, Peter Malcolm, Jamie Mackintosh, Pierce Dargan, Kyle Baillie, Filippo Ferrarini, Matt Hughston, Sebastian Kalm

Backs: Shaun Davies, JP Eloff, Mason Baum, Roland Suniula, Ahmad Harajly, Spike Davis, Zac Mizell

Bench: Demecus Beach, Cam Falcon, Anthony Perry, Robbie Shaw, Chris Kunkel, Alan Hanson, Dominic Pezzutti, Zack Stryffeler

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