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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Ohio Against Denver In Top Of The Table Clash


Once again we have a top of the table clash in PRO Rugby and once again it involves Denver. No team has beaten Denver this year but Ohio will have another crack at it this week as they head to CIBER Field. This match has all feeling of a make or break for the rest of the field trying to catch Denver. They hold a five point edge over both Ohio and San Diego in the table and have a game in hand. If they go on to beat Ohio on Sunday then that in theory creates a 15 point gap between the two teams with only four matches remaining for Ohio. A Denver win also means that when they play San Diego in a few weeks as an undefeated team a win would essentially seal the title. The bottom line is that if anyone wants to step Denver from being crowned champions it has to start this week.

Ohio and Denver were of course involved in the very first PRO Rugby match back in April. The snow was a big part of that match but it was also notable for Will Magie kicking a penalty to win PRO Rugby's only overtime match so far. For Ohio fans they will remember the number of missed opportunities they had to score tries that would have turned around the result and arguably changed the tenor of the season. But that's in the past and each team has changed a lot since then. Denver has only gone from strength to strength while Ohio have put up some very big wins but also let some matches get away from them.

Take the jump to read more.
Ohio are coming off one of those matches in which they dominated. For the third time in a row they scored more than 50 points at home. It's the type of offensive production that few other teams have been able to match. Alex Elkins and Spike Davis are two bruising wings that few in PRO Rugby have had an answer for. In many ways they represent a new type of wing that with proper nourishment can be a game changer for American rugby. Ohio will need both of them to be big once again as they come up a very good defensive back group in Denver.

Another element aiding Ohio last weekend was the addition of Taylor Howden at fly-half. He gave them a great creative spark that helped create some of those tries. But most importantly last week was the introduction of Dom Waldouck. The Premiership veteran scored a hat-trick on debut and is going to be very difficult for Denver to stop.

Where the match might have an edge is in the front row. Denver are without both Chris Baumann and Ben Tarr while Ohio are missing Angus MacLellan but have Jaime Mackintosh. Ohio was able to use their scrum well last week but maybe weren't as dominant as expected. They are going up against a Denver team that has had the best scrum in the competition so far. Zach Fenoglio is playing some great rugby and with a lot of big boys they aren't easily manhandled.

For Denver it's about continuing to do the small things that have gotten them to this point. Pedrie Wannenburg has been a real leader for the team in multiple ways this season. His leadership and calm in tight situations is a big reason that Denver are unbeaten. Additionally, Will Magie has come into his own over the first six games. His kicking has markedly improved Denver are now racking up the points.

I there is a game that Denver look ripe for the upset this might be it. They are coming off a layoff while Ohio excelled against San Diego. However, Denver have shown over and over that they have what it takes to win. We think that's the case again this weekend.

The match starts at 3:00 p.m. MT and can be seen on prorugby.org.

Ohio

Forwards: Jaime Mackintosh, Dylan Fawsitt, Demecus Beach, Pierce Dargan, Ryan McTiernan, Filippo Ferrarini, Sebastian Kalm, Riekert Hattingh

Backs: Shaun Davies, Taylor Howden, Alex Elkins, Dom Waldouck, Roland Suniula, Spike Davis, Zac Mizell

Bench: Peter Malcolm, Dominic Pezzutti, Derrek Van Klein, Chad Joseph, Allan Hanson, Robbie Shaw, Chris Kunkel, Ahmad Harajly

Denver

Forwards: Nic Wallace, Zach Fenoglio, Soane Leger, Christian Wiessing, Casey Rock, Logan Collins, Peter Dahl, Pedrie Wannenburg

Backs: Mose Timoteo, Will Magie, Timana Tahu, Ata Malifa, Martin Knoetze, Mike Garrity, Max De Achaval

Bench: Hanco Germishuys, Luke White, Jake Turnbul, Brodie Orth, Lynton Mare, Bobby Impson, Dustin Croy, Michael Al-Jiboori

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