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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Preview: Sacramento Return To Face Denver


For the first time all season Denver are entering a match with a loss on their record. The Stampede's drive for a perfect season came to a crashing halt last weekend as they lost big to Ohio. That loss was certainly disappointing but even with the result Denver sit in a great position to win the title if they continue to pick up victories. That's a big if as the rest of the competition continues to get better and better.

Sacramento, who will make the trip to Denver on Sunday, is one of those teams that has made improvements. The team is coming off a long layoff--they haven't played since the end of May--but have added a big name in the meantime. Eagles prop Eric Fry has signed with his hometown team through the end of the season and that should give the Express an added boost to what is already a solid front row. He arrives at a good time for the team too. After winning their first match of the season Sacramento have lost five straight and are looking for answers. Like with what happened to San Francisco a few weeks back a win could energize Sacramento enough to make a late push the rest of the year.

Take the jump to read more.
In addition to Fry the return of fly-half Harry Bennett is going to boost Sacramento. Bennett was a key player for the Express early in the season and made several plays that got their offense going strong. When he was injured it took a big bite out of the team that they haven't been able to compensate for. Now that he's back he will give them another kicker and a playmaker at fly-half that will pair well with Chris Saint.

Another thing that could aid Sacramento this week is the fact that they spent some time training with the Eagles. After a month long break they probably needed the jolt of what it's like to play again at a high-level. As they head to Denver the mentality of getting back into the swing of things is going to be important.

While Sacramento added to their front-row Denver have seen a hit in theirs. Along with San Diego Denver has been hit hard by international absences. The Stampede are missing both Chris Baumann and Ben Tarr to the Eagles. That has caused some shifting around and will see Nick Wallace and Soane Leger start at prop for the team. Also gone is Chad London who leaves a hole in the back-row while Hanco Germishuys has been gone at times to train with the Eagles.

One of the things that doomed Denver last week against Ohio was letting the Aviators get off to a hot start. Given the Aviators form the last two weeks it's hard to argue anyone was going to stop them but the normally solid Denver defense gave up a lot of points before they were able to respond. The 48 points given up was their second highest total of the season and outside of their match against San Francisco a few weeks back they were only giving up in the teens. As they say, defense wins championships and the Stampede are going to need to find their form once again.

In the end it's going to be a question of how well can Denver recover from their first loss and how quickly can Sacramento adjust to getting back at it. We think that from top to bottom Denver is too deep and while Sacramento should keep it close the Stampede with rebound with a win.

The match starts at 5:00 p.m et/3:00 p.m. mt/2:00 p.m. pt and can be seen live on prorugby.org.

Sacramento

Forwards: Val Lee-Lo, Cam Falcon, Eric Fry, Robert Meeson, Sione Sina, Ryan Koewler, Kali Tavake, Kyle Sumsion

Backs: Chris Saint, Harry Bennett, Cody Jerabeck, Mirco Bergamasco, Nemia Qoro, Ryan Thompson, Garrett Bender

Bench: Matt Doubek, Ollie Kilifi, Sione Latu, Alipate Takiveikata, Estephan Tuimasanga, Jope Motokana, Alex Hodgkinson, TBD

Denver

Forwards: Nick Wallace, Zach Fenoglio, Soane Leger, Logan Collins, Brodie Orth, Zac Pauga, Hanco Germishuys, Pedrie Wannenburg

Backs: Most Timoteo, Will Magie, Dustin Croy, Ata Malifa, Timana Tahu, Michael Garrity, Max De Achaval

Bench: Luke White, Jake Turnbull, Lynton Mare, TBD, Bobby Impson, Michael Al-Jiboori , TBD, TBD

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