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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Preview: San Francisco & Denver Hunting For Points


With their win last week Denver put themselves in a position to capture the inaugural PRO Rugby title with a win next week against Ohio. As things stand Denver currently sit one point behind Ohio on 41 points despite winning two more matches. That is because Ohio has had the best offense all season and has picked up 10 bonus points from 11 matches. So even though Denver won't lose their shot at a title if they fail to pick up a result against San Francisco today there is a lot to play for. A bonus point win would put them four ahead of Ohio meaning that just two points from their match next week would seal the crown.

Getting past San Francisco is much easier said than done. The Rush have been one of the best teams over the second half of the season as players gain fitness and rise to the level of pro play. The potential return of Mils Muliaina this week, as well as Jake Anderson, is going to be a major boost. Offensively San Francisco have been able to get things ramped up over the past few weeks thanks in no small part to the play of Volney Rouse.

Take the jump to read more.
There are some great head to head match-ups set for today. The centers look particularly interesting. Orene Ai'i and Nick Blevins are playing very well at the moment but as are Timana Tahu and Chad London for Denver. Tahu moves into the centers after spending time on the wing last week in his most productive performance. Ai'i and Blevins bring a mix of finesse and power with Ai'i in particular running things well from a  playmaking 12 position. 

Another strong match-up will be at fly-half. Will Magie may be the in-form fly-half at the moment but the same could be said of Rouse. Both have excellent kicking abilities and if the match devolves into penalties both will like their chances of picking up points. There is also another personal battle between the two as they jockey for position to try and surpass Kurt Morath in the overall scoring charts. 

Where Denver arguably has a big advantage is in the forwards. The Denver forward pack, in particular the front-row of Nick Wallace, Zach Fenoglio, and Ben Tarr is fantastic. Throw in Chris Baumann and Jake Turnbull on the bench and you have group that can cause damange. The same goes for their back-row. San Francisco will have a big size advantage on Denver but Denver probably have the better technique at this point. 

While Denver are the favorites expect this one to be close. San Francisco are playing well at the moment and will be hungry for more points in an effort to surpass San Diego in the standings. Look for them to come out flying and try to pick up a marquee win. However, at this point, especially with their offense clicking, Denver seem to be in the driver's seat. 

The match from Boxer Stadium starts at 6:00 p.m. et/3:00 p.m. pt and will be seen on prorugby.org


Denver

Forwards: Nick Wallace, Zach Fenoglio, Ben Tarr, Logan Collins, Luke White, Hanco Germishuys, Peter Dahl, Pedrie Wannenberg

Backs: Mose Timoteo, Will Magie, Martin Knoetze, Timana Tahu, Chad London, Mike Garrity, Ata Malifa

Bench: Chris Baumann, Jake Turnbull, Brodie Orth, Christian Wiessing, Casey Rock, Bobby Impson, Kyle Hitt, John Godinet

San Francisco


Forwards: Codi Jones, Jay Finau, Pat Latu, Nick Grass, Jeremy Lenaerts, Brendan Daly, Sam Finau, Bil Fukofuka

Backs: Devereaux Ferris, Volney Rouse, Pila Iongi, Orene Ai'i, Nick Blevins, Michael Haley, Mils Muliaina/Jake Anderson (depending on medical clearance)

Bench: Mone Laulaupeaalu, Neill Barrett, Fancy Namulauulu, Isaac Helu, Siupeli Sakalia, Jake Anderson or TBD, Junior Helu, Michael Reid

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