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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ohio Hold On To Beat Sacramento

Photo: David Barpal
The Ohio Aviators needed a win against Sacramento to ensure a possible showdown with Denver on the final weekend of the season in a few weeks and despite a late comeback by the Express the Aviators were able to hold on for the 41-31 win. For the Aviators the win was exactly what they needed as they once again were able to pile on the points. However, Sacramento were able to get have their way at times and the way they were able to score 31 points has to be both heartening to a Sacramento team that has been improving and disappointing to Ohio who want to keep their defense as strong as possible.

The home side, Sacramento, got off to an aggressive start earning several penalty against Ohio. However, the Express weren't able to capitalize on several attacking line outs and a penalty attempt from a Mirco Bergamasco.

The first points in the match came just over a dozen minutes in. Sacramento looked to have earned a penalty to clear Ohio pressure but scrumhalf Jope Motokana was called for a no-wrap tackle. That allowed Ohio to use their strong maul to push Jamie Mackintosh over for the score. Shaun Davies would convert and Ohio would lead 7-0.

Take the jump to read more.

The Express immediately responded. After working the ball down the pitch with their own pressure they eventually saw Langilangi Haupeakui crash over for the try. Bergamasco would equal Davies penalty tying things up at 7-7.

After the tries each team then traded chances for the next ten minutes or so with Sacramento having the better of the opportunities. However, any time they had a half chance a small error, like a loose pass or a knock-on, killed their chance. That all changed with Ohio was able to use their back to perfection. Playing quickly the ball was spread out to the wing where Alex Elkins put in a perfect offload to Riekert Hattingh who raced in for the try. The conversion was good and Sacramento led 14-7.

Ohio would then add to their lead with a Spike Davis try four minutes before the half. Once again it came as Ohio were aggressive in attack and used their forwards to draw in the defense before spreading it out wide. The conversion was off. Sacramento would strike back with a Bergamasco penalty but Ohio led 19-10 at the break.

The match turned permanently in Ohio's favor thanks to a big 15 minute span shortly into the second half where they scored four tries. The first try came thanks to a big run from Roland Suniula who shrugged through several tackles before seeing the ball pop out to Alex Elkins. The second came six minutes later when more pressure from the maul led to Hattingh getting his second try.

The third came straight off the restart. After Sacramento failed to collect the ball when it bounced Ohio broke out with Spike Davis doing the hard work before passing to Kyle Baillie for the try. It then got worse for Sacrament as Haupeakui was sent to the bin for hitting a man without the ball. With the man advantage Davis would score his second try of the match as the ball was turned over and Ohio quickly countered. When Robbie Shaw converted Ohio held a 41-10 lead with 20 minutes to go.

Credit to Sacramento as they went on a run over their own to make it close with some time left on the clock. Shane Moore was the first to score as they did well to keep ball in hand leading to Moore getting a great pass from Motokana for the try. It all started with another strong run from Cody Jerabek who was very strong all match. The next try came just a few minutes later. Showing better energy another run from Jerabek put Sacramento feet from the line. From there it was Lagakali Tavake who finished it off.  Suddnely with 13 minutes left to play it was 41-24.

The final try fro Sacramento brought the crowd to their feet as Haupeakui made a strong run and the Toke Kefu finished it off by taking the ball out of the ruck and crashing over. Unfortunately for the express the comeback came too late as Ohio would hold on for the win.

Ohio have to be concerned by the way they finished the match. It was a let down for a team that has been clinical for most of the year. Sacramento did not have a great match showing little energy at times but their late surge showed exactly what they can do if they play a full 80 minutes.

Up next for Sacramento is Denver on Sunday, a match the Stampede must win in order to set up a show down with the Aviators at the end of the season. Ohio will have a break until July 31st against Denver.

Ohio

Tries: Mackintosh, Hattingh (2), Davis (2), Elkins, Baillie
Conversions: Davies (2), Shaw

Sacramento

Tries: Haupeakui, Moore, Tavake, Kefu
Conversions: Bergamasco (4)
Penalties: Bergamasco

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