Saturday, May 14, 2016

Ohio vs. San Diego In Tasty Clash

This one is going to be fun. Both Ohio and San Diego sit on 11 points through three games and if either teams wants to separate themselves with a result against a rival they are going to need to win this match. Through in that both teams love to get out an run and this has all the makings of a must-watch match.

Prior to the season San Diego were considered one of the favorites to challenge for the top spot. That was with good reason, in particular in their backline that is full of internationals. Tom Bliss, Kurt Morath, Phil Mackenzie, Ryan Matyas, Tim Stanfill, and Mikey Te'o have all been capped at the senior level. That is even before the team was able to add Andrew Suniula and Taku Ngwenya last weekend. Those backs were on full display in their wins over Sacramento and San Francisco. Against Sacramento they were able to capitalize on mistakes while against San Francisco it was more of a plodding, thinking type of attack but it was successful at racking up the points.

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Where San Diego have struggled somewhat on the year is in the forwards. Hubert Buydens has helped hold down the fort on the front-line while Cecil Garber has been one of the league's revelations in the back-row. This week San Diego is going to get some help in the form of reinforcements on the front-row. Joe Taufete'e is now healthy enough to start and will get the nod alongside Mike Sosene-Feagai and Buydens. That should help stabilze the scrum. Additionally, Tai Tuisamoa is playing very well at lock. If the San Diego forwards can hold their own and provide a platform for the backs it should be a good day for them.

Ohio were not one of the favorites heading into the season. That was mainly due to the fact that of all the teams they have the least local players (i.e. not as much cohesion in terms of style) and that other teams had "bigger name" players. Nothing could have been further from the truth as Ohio have been extremely impressive. Full credit should go to the coaching staff and the players for coming together quickly and creating a style that is strong defensively and one that has scored the second most points in the league.

One of the big reasons for Ohio's success this year has been the contributions of players like Matt Hughston, Sebastian Kalm, Angus MacLellan, and Ahmad Harajly. Complimenting this group have been veterans Jamie Mackintosh and Roland Suniula. Put it all together and they are an extremely balanced side.

They will have to deal with at least one big change this week. Shaun Davies, who has arguably been the league MVP so far this year, is out after suffering a knock last week and Robbie Shaw comes in. That's not a bad swap given Shaw's experience. Dylan Fawsitt, who was with Life, comes in for Peter Malcolm at hooker.

These are the two highest scoring teams in the competition. San Diego lead the league in that category with 99 points but Ohio are right behind at 95. Given that Ohio were also slowed in the first week against Denver in the snow they have turned it on the last two games. Where Ohio may have a big edge is defensively. They lead the league in that category having only given up 44 points. That includes only giving up 11 points to Sacramento last weekend. San Diego can play good defense but they are going to be tested this weekend.

While both teams are even Ohio seem to have a lot of momentum at the moment. Their past two wins have been so impressive. Travel is a concern but they have been playing so well that it's hard to see them not scoring points against San Diego. For San Diego to win they are going to need a big performance from their forwards. In the end we see Ohio with the win.

The match starts at 5:00 p.m. pt at Torero Stadium and will be broadcast on

Notes: This match is set to feature family rivals. Brothers Roland and Andrew Suniula are going head to head in the centers. Ohio head coach Paule Barford has to coach against his son Tim, who plays for San Diego.


Forwards: Jamie Mackintosh, Dylan Fawsitt, Angus MacLellan, Pierce Dargan, Kyle Baillie, Filippo Ferrarrini, Matt Hughston, Sebastian Kalm

Backs: Robbie Shaw, JP Eloff, Mason Baum, Roland Suniula, Ryan Cochran, Spike Davis, Ahmad Harajly

Bench: Chris Schade, Demecus Beach, Chad Joseph, Ryan McTiernan, Allan Hanson, Alex Elkins, Chris Kunkel

San Diego
Forwards: Hubert Buydens, Mike Sosene-Feagai, Joe Taufete'e, David Dolinar, Tai Tuisamoa, Chris Turori, Cecil Garber, Sione Tuihalamaka

Backs: Tom Bliss, Kurt Morath, Phil Mackenzie, Andrew Suniula, Ryan Matyas, Taku Ngwenya, Mikey Te'o

Bench: Tim Barford, Kakalea Pule, Mason Pedersen, Nikola Bursic, Ian Carpenter, Charlie Purdon, Kalei Konrad, Tim Stanfill

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