Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ohio, Sacramento Set To Tangle

We are now getting to the point of the PRO Rugby season that things are starting to shake out. We are beginning to see which teams look like contenders to finish at or near the top of the table and we are beginning to see which teams may fail to meet their goals this year. The match between Ohio and Sacramento at Bonney Field has all the markings of a match that could help decide who floats and who sinks.

Both teams enter the match with one win and one loss. It just so happens that both of their wins came over San Francisco. Sacramento beat San Francisco 37-25 in week one while Ohio smashed them 51-17 last week. Given how teams have developed even in a short time this season a comparison is less straightforward than it would be normally but it does point to a possible advantage for Ohio. At the same time, each team does have a loss but those losses did come against Denver and San Diego, two very good teams.

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Another thing that both teams have in common is their self-identification as blue collar teams. Neither team was loaded with "stars" prior to the season. Sacramento has been discounted by some because of the DII players they have on their team (a load of crap for anyone in the know) while Ohio has the most players that had to move to play. As a result each team seems to have a bit of a chip on their shoulder. That should make for a really intense battle as each team will look to do the small things well.

Ohio enter the match having settled on a core group of players. Shaun Davies has been playing fantastic rugby and his pairing with JP Eloff has worked out well. The rest of the backs have been excellent as well. Roland Suniula and Ahmad Harajly are active and make a great center pairing. In the forwards Jamie Mackintosh may be the best prop in the competition and Matt Hughston has opened a lot of eyes. Then their is Sebastian Kalm, who is our player of the week.

Sacramento are not a bad side themselves and they've also identified a good group of players. John Quill and Kyle Sumsion have provided a lot of power and leadership from the flanker position. Ollie Kilifi and Val Lee-Lo are a very solid pairing that should give the Ohio front-row everything they can handle. Chris Saint has also been a good find for the team and he'll certainly want to prove something to his old team. Garrett Brewer will get his first runout at fly-half. It's a position he's played before with various clubs but it's still new for Sacramento. Mirco Bergamasco has been as good as advertised.

Both teams like to score. In two matches Sacramento have scored 61 points while Ohio have scored 63. Sacramento's scoring has been more spread out than Ohio's given that Ohio were held to 13 points against Denver. Still, their outburst against San Francisco shows they can put up the points. Defensively Ohio has the advantage by the numbers. They have only given up 33 points this season while Sacramento have given up 62.

We think that this should be a close match but it's hard to argue against what Ohio did last week. They were very impressive and when they play Denver again it could be a defining match. That said, they do have to travel yet again and that takes a toll. Sacramento are also returning home where they have a very solid crowd behind them. In the end we think that Ohio pulls it out but narrowly.


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, Chris Kunkel

Bench: Dylan Fawsitt, Demecus Beach, Dom Pezzutti, Chad Joseph, Allan Hanson, Robbie Shaw, Alex Elkins, Ryan McTiernan


Forwards: Val Lee-Lo, Ray Barkwill, Ollie Kilifi, Robert Meeson, Sione Sina, Kyle Sumsion, John Quill, Langilangi Haupeakui

Chris Saint, Garrett Brewer, Jojo Tikoisuva, Mirco Bergamasco, Nemia Qoro, Ryan Keowler, Ryan Thompson

Bench: Matt Doubek, Toke Kefu, Kali Tavake, Sione Latu, Estephan Tuimasanga, Jope Motokana, Fatai Vailala, Alipate Takiveikata


  1. Go, Ohio!
    Love Shaun Davies and JP Eloff working together.
    And don't forget Pierce Dargan, my favorite lock at the moment.

  2. I've watched every game of the season so far, including the Denver vs Ohio game which I attended in person.

    Even as Denver supporter who enjoyed the game and the win, as well as Denver's consistent performance since that match. I must admit that Ohio was a bit unlucky in that game. It is a very real possibly that the result of that game would have been different if Ohio hadn't been so unlucky on the day.

    I see Ohio as being a very underrated team at the moment. I think later in the season Ohio will be in a much difference place in the standings.

    I agree with the general consensus regarding Sacramento.