Monday, July 25, 2016

Denver Come Back To Beat San Francisco

The Denver Stampede were already going to have a shot at the title next week against Ohio before their match against San Francisco but the Rush have been rapidly improving to end the season and the Stampede risked losing momentum had they fallen at Boxer Stadium. However, using a late comeback they went on to win 31-24 and now have an advantage heading into the next week.  The Rush showed exactly why they have been one of the hottest teams in the last few weeks with arguably their best display of the season. In the end it was the experience of Denver to capitalize on mistakes from San Francisco that was the difference.

Showing their improvement the Rush wasted no time getting on the board just two minutes in. Keeping the ball Jake Anderson was able to make a break who passed with one hand to Nick Blevins who then found Pila Iongi for the try. It was a brilliant start for San Francisco and gave them confidence throughout the match. They nearly doubled that match a few minutes later when Orene Ai'i intercepted a pass but he was caught just short of the line leading to a knock-on.

Take the jump to read more.

Not letting the try get them down Denver came back with sustained pressure of their own. When a clearance kick didn't go far enough down the pitch Timana Tahu was there to make the initial run before passing to Peter Dahl. As he was tackled Dahl put in the perfect pass back to Tahu who dove into the corner for the score. Will Magie would be off on the conversion but Denver were showing their first signs of life. However, San Francisco responded immediately. Off a set play the Rush worked the ball across the pitch where once again Iongi was there to finish in the corner. After a quarter of an hour San Francisco led 12-5.

The play was free flowing throughout the match with neither team afraid to take it to the other. Any opportunity each team had to run they took it. Despite that it was a Denver maul that would grab the next try. After a San Francisco penalty near midfield Denver went for the corner where they then used their line out and maul to push Pedrie Wannenberg over the line. The conversion was good tying the match at 12-12.

The teams continued to trade pressure and it was the fancy running of San Francisco that set them up for their next try. Good runs from Rouse, Ai'i, and others set up Bill Fukofuka in the corner for the score. Particular credit goes to Ai'i who made a great pass under pressure to find Fukofuka. Denver nearly had another fancy try for themselves but Ben Tarr wasn't able to hold on to a pass that would have seen him stroll in. The same could be said of San Francisco who nearly found Iongi with a kick but Mike Garrity was there to grab the ball first. At the half San Francisco led 17-12.

Not resting with the lead San Francisco came out aggressive early and had a drop goal attempt from Ai'i but it missed. Still, their next score was coming. A turnover from Michael Haley led to Rouse using Blevins has a dummy to freeze the defense and go in for the try. Just a couple of minutes in to the half San Francisco were up 24-12 and in control.

Unfortunately it was a combination of San Francisco penalties and clinical finishing from Denver that would see them turn around the result. Down near the try line after another Rush infraction Denver used their forwards to suck in the defense before passing out to Martin Knoetze for the try. That cut the lead to 24-17 with still 30 minutes to play. They then equalized with 15 minutes to play. Off a line out Dahl did well to recognize the gap. He passed out to the supporting Chris Baumann who then offloaded to Mose Timoteo for the try. Most importantly for Denver that try meant that they had picked up a bonus point. That, coupled with their eventual win now gives them an edge heading into next week.

Even though Denver would go on to win with ten minutes left it was anyone's game. San Francisco had a couple of opportunities in which they came close to scoring only to see them denied just short. A draw may have been fitting if not for a piece of brilliance from Timana Tahu. Taking the gap Tahu got through the defense before finding the supporting London for the easy score. Magie would hit the conversion and Denver would hold on to win 31-24.

Denver now have their big showdown with Ohio next week for the inaugural title while San Francisco face rivals Sacramento. Denver have a four point lead in the standings meaning that a draw or two bonus points would be good enough. They in theory could tie but Ohio has a much better point differential.

San Francisco

Tries: Iongi (2), Fukofuka, Rouse
Conversions: Rouse (2)


Tries: Tahu, Wannenberg, Knoetze, Timoteo, London
Conversions: Magie (3)

1 comment:

  1. If Denver and Ohio were to be tied after next week's match, would Ohio win the championship based on points difference? I would really hope that wins and losses would be the first tie breaker.