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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Denver Visit Ohio To Decide PRO Rugby Championship

Photo: Eric Broadfoot
What began in a snowstorm in Colorado back in April will end in the sweltering heat of Ohio on Sunday. It's only fitting that the two teams that played in the inaugural PRO Rugby match will finish the first season off with the title on the line as the Denver Stampede visit the Ohio Aviators. A lot has changed since the two teams came together back in April. Denver went on a long winning streak to begin the season only to go through some shakier times before rebounding with a strong end to the season. Ohio also endured a strong start, had their bumps earlier in the year, before closing out their season as the hottest team in the league. But in the end there can only be one champion setting up what should be an epic clash in Obetz.

As things stand Denver head into the match with a four point advantage in the standings. They have 46 points to 42 for Ohio. That means several there are several scenarios of how things could play out tomorrow. The simplest scenario is Denver winning the match. If they win then the title is their without looking at the chart. Denver can also win the championship if they pick up two bonus points (one through scoring four tries and one by losing less than seven) but Ohio win the match (even with Ohio picking up a bonus point).

Take the jump to read more.
Ohio can win the championship if they win the game and score a bonus point. Denver can pick up a bonus point making the teams finish level of points and it would still give the championship to Ohio because the first tiebreaker is head to head and Ohio would have won two of their three matches against Denver. Any scenario in which the teams are tied on points the match would go to whoever wins the match. Remember, there can be no draws as exemplified back in April when the two teams played the first and only extra time match in league history.

Denver enter the match on a bit of a hot streak having found their offensive groove. Despite having 10 wins to only 8 for Ohio it's the fact that Ohio has been able to pick up bonus points while Denver let some slip during the season that has the two teams so close. That said, any offensive struggled Denver may have had have disappeared the last few weeks with two 59 point performances. That offensive output is in large part to the play of Mose Timoteo and Will Magie in the halfbacks and the moving of Timana Tahu to the centers along with Chad London. This whole group has been together for most of the year and it's finally starting to click. Additionally, having Max De Achaval return to the line-up gives them added punch that should help make up for missing Ata Malifa.

Defensively Denver have been strong all year. Much of that credit goes to their outstanding forward pack that has been great at keeping possession. The back-row of Hanco Germishuys, Peter Dahl, and Pedrie Wannenberg is the strongest in the league and has caused nightmares for other teams. Germishuys in particular has picked things up this year. The front-row of Luke White, Zach Fenoglio, and Chris Baumann is also excellent. They will be without Ben Tarrt his weekend but have great options off the bench. The lock pairing of Logan Collins and Casey Rock is also underrated.

As much as Denver's offense has come alive in the past few weeks Ohio's has never stopped. They easily scored the most points in the league this season with some absolutely crazy point totals, including 71 against San Francisco last month. Scrumhalf Shaun Davies has a great claim to be the league MVP this season. He has been brilliant in distribution and having Taylor Howden available to step in for the injured JP Eloff has been a blessing. Where the team has really taken off is with their wings. Alex Elkins and Spike Davis are players transferring from being college football players to rugby. Their transition as the season has gone along has been something to watch with both players making huge leaps forward. Davis is the top try scorer in the league and is so hard to stop. We haven't even mentioned Dom Waldouck and Roland Suniula yet who have been outstanding in their own right.

We said above that Denver's back-row was the best in the league but the group of Filippo Ferrarini, Sebastian Kalm, and Riekert Hattingh is right there. Kalm in particular has been a star and the competition's breakout player. In the front-row Jamie Mackintosh and Dylan Fawsitt have been leaders that have been earning penalties and picking up points for their team.

A additional factor in the match is going to be fatigue. Denver have played a lot of rugby over the past few weeks and are enduring a tough travel day to Ohio. Will they be fit enough to hang with Ohio at a high pace for 80 minutes? Fitness hasn't been an issue for Denver this year so we think they will be okay, especially with a championship on the line. On the flip side, Ohio haven't played since the beginning of the month. Time off is a good thing to heal but will they be rusty? If they are and Denver can capitalize with some early points that may be enough to tip the match.

It's hard to pick a winner between the two teams. They are so even in many aspects of the game. For us, the big question will be whether or not the Denver backs can contain Elkins and Davis. If they can then we see the Stampede winning. If they can't then it should be the Aviators day.

The match will start at 3:00 p.m. et/12:00 p.m. pt and will air on prorugby.org.

Denver

Forwards: Luke White, Zach Fenoglio, Chris Baumann, Logan Collins, Casey Rock, Hanco Germishuys, Peter Dahl, Pedrie Wannenberg

Backs: Mose Timoteo, Will Magie, Dustin Croy, Timana Tahu, Chad London, Mike Garrity, Max De Achaval

Bench: Soane Leger, Jake Turnbull, Nick Wallace, Christian Wiessing, Zac Pauga, Bobby Impson, Kyle Hitt, Martin Knoetze

Ohio

Forwards: Jamie Mackintosh, Dylan Fawsitt, Demecus Beach, Ryan McTiernan, Kyle Baillie, Filippo Ferrarini, Sebastian Kalm, Riekert Hattingh

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

Bench:
Peter Malcolm, Pierce Dargan, Angus MacLellan, Robbie Shaw, Chad Joseph, Derrek Van Klein, Allan Hanson, Ahmad Harajly

1 comment:

  1. Ohio wins at home, but can they prevent Denver from getting 2 bonus points? It's going to be a good match.

    ReplyDelete