Saturday, July 16, 2016

Preview: San Francisco Hosts San Diego

With only two and three matches remaining on their respective schedules neither San Francisco nor San Diego are in the hunt for the inaugural PRO Rugby title. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a lot on the line as the two teams square off today at Boxer Stadium at 6:00 p.m. et/3:00 p.m. pt. The Rush and the Express are in many ways headed in opposite directions. The Rush endured a very difficult start to the season losing their first five matches before finally claiming a big win over Ohio. Since then they've beaten San Diego while dropping a couple more matches. Still, in comparison to the beginning the season the Rush are playing much better rugby and look like a real threat to pick up some more wins.

San Diego are headed in the opposite direction. After looking like a title threat with early success in the season, including a close loss to Denver that could have given them strong position in the table, they have lost five in a row. Much of that time was without their internationals but even when they did return the Breakers looked sluggish, especially on the defensive end.

Take the jump to read more.
For each team the drive to next season begins now. San Francisco will want to continue to build on their momentum and give themselves a platform, especially on the fitness side of things, to excel next season. They have found some good players on the year and have had steady performances from the likes of Pila Iongi and Volney Rouse and if they can add some pieces next year they should be even stronger. Plus, they have been hit by the injury bug with Mils Muliaina and Jake Anderson out.

For San Diego it's about reconnecting with what went well early on in the year. Defensively they team has struggled mightily the last few matches. Losing Phil Mackenzie in the backs has been a big blow as has been the injury Hubert Buydens. It's a bit of a puzzle why the team has dropped off this year. International absences have certainly played their part and it may be fatigue setting in given that many of their players played heavy PRP seasons or played in the ARC. Still, more was expected out of this group.

Today's match should be a close one. Each team has threats in the front row, including back-rows that are big and will give teams trouble. In the backs there could be a lot of fireworks and a lot of scoring. The match-up between Devereaux Ferris and Volney Rouse against Charlie Purdon and Kalei Konrad is going to be fun to watch as is the center match-up between Orene Ai-i and Nick Blevins against Andrew Suniula and Ryan Matyas. Prepare for lots of fireworks.

Where this match could be decided is in the kicking game. Volney Rouse has been excellent on the year while Kalei Konrad has been good but has mostly given way to top scorer Kurt Morath. Whoever can out kick the other will likely win the match.

The game begins at 6:00 p.m. et/3:00 p.m. pt and will be streamed on

San Francisco

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

Backs: Devereaux Ferris, Volney Rouse, Pila Iongi, Orene Ai'i, Nick Blevins, Michael Haley, Martini Talapusi

Bench: Mone Laulaupeaalu, Fancy Namulauulu, Niko Lolohea, Phil Huihui, Siupeli Sakalia, Jack O'Hara, Junior Helu, Michael Reid

San Diego

Forwards: Mason Pedersen, Joe Taufete'e, Jake Ilnicki, Ian Carpenter, Tai Tuisamoa, Bruce Thomas, Cecil Garber, Chris Turori

Backs: Charlie Purdon, Kalei Konrad, Taku Ngwenya, Andrew Suniula, Ryan Matyas, Pono Haitsuka, Mike Te'o

Bench: Mike Sosene-Feagai, Epi Kalamani, Kakalea Pule, Sam Lilley, Derrick Broussard, Zach Pangelinan, Ben Leatigaga, Tim Stanfill

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