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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Preview: Pressure On Denver Against San Diego


After holding what looked like an insurmountable lead at the top of the table for most of the season the Denver Stampede now find themselves with their backs against the wall thanks to the Ohio Aviators beating the Sacramento Express. The Aviators now have 42 points which means the Stampede need to take away results from all of their matches the rest of the season in order to have a cushion heading into the final weekend against the Aviators in Ohio.

The quest to pick up points begins today at CIBER Field where the Stampede take on the San Diego Breakers. The previous meetings between these two clubs have been close with Denver snatching close wins on both occasions. That said, the Breakers have been on a bit of a slide as of late losing their last four matches. The team went from being in title contention to now looking to simply finish above .500 on the season.

Take the jump to read more.
San Diego have had a major boost in the last few weeks as their internationals have returned from duty. Canadian prop Jake Ilnicki has been a strong presence since arriving with the team and has paired well with Joe Taufete'e. However, they are going to come up against a very good front row in Ben Tarr, Zach Fenoglio, and Chris Baumann. San Diego has given up penalties in the scrum in the past and if they do that against Denver Will Magie is going to make them pay.

Elsewhere along the forwards Denver has strength. Casey Rock and Logan Collins are two fine centers while Hanco Germishuys, Peter Dahl, and Pedrie Wannenburg may challenge anyone as the best group in the competition. Sione Tuihalamaka and Tai Tuisamoa aren't bad themselves as a lock pairing for San Diego but they are going to need help from their back row.

Arguably the most intriguing match-ups between the two teams are in the halfbacks. The timeless Mose Timoteo has been as solid as always while Will Magie has really come on strong over the last few weeks at flyhalf for Denver. San Diego have two excellent players themselves. Charlie Purdon has been one of the best scrumhalfs in the competition when healthy and Kurt Morath will make you pay with points. This match could easily come down to who is more disciplined and which kicker takes advantage the best.

The San Diego backs have been their strength all season but injuries have ruled out Taku Ngwenya, Tim Stanfill, and Phil Mackenzie. The Breakers have depth with the likes of Pono Haitsuka, Ryan Matyas, and Ben Leatigaga but it's Mikey Te'o that really makes them click. If Te'o can find space then he will make the Denver back line pay. Staying with the Denver back line, they are super solid as well.

Defensively Denver has the edge but it's not a big one. The Breakers defensive has improved a lot the last few weeks and outside their match against Ohio has doesn't a fairly decent job at limiting their opponents. Denver are still historically a better defensive team but they are going in the opposite direction recently giving up some bigger numbers.

In the end we think that playing at home and with the incentive of knowing they need a victory that Denver comes out on top. Like last night's match between Ohio and Sacramento showed any team can compete this one will be close but with the edge to Denver.

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

Denver

Forwards: Ben Tarr, Zach Fenoglio, Chris Baumann, Casey Rock, Logan Collins, Hanco Germishuys, Peter Dahl, Pedrie Wannenburg

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

Bench: Nic Wallace, Jake Turnbull, Soane Leger, Luke White, Zac Pauga, Bobby Impson, Kyle Hitt, Dustin Croy

San Diego

Forwards: Mason Pedersen, Joe Taufete'e, Jake Ilnicki, Sione Tuihalamaka, Tai Tuisamoa, Nikola Bursic, Cecil Garber, Chris Turori

Backs: Charlie Purdon, Kurt Morath, Ben Leatigaga, Andrew Suniula, Ryan Matyas, Pono Haitsuka, Mike Te'o

Bench: Mikey Sosene-Feagai, Kakalea Pule, Brice Schilling, Jean Baptiste Gobelet, Bruce Thomas, Tom Bliss, Kalei Konrad, Zach Pangelinan

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