Friday, August 11, 2017

Club 7s Nationals Preview: Men's Pool C & Pool D

It's time to continue our Club 7s Nationals preview with a look at Pool C and Pool D.

Pool C: Belmont Shore, Charlotte, Denver Barbarians, Schuylkill River

Pool C, like all of the pools, is shaping up to be difficult. You have three teams in Belmont Shore, the Denver Barbarians, and Schuylkill River that all have a history of going far in the tournament and then you have Charlotte who could be a big surprise. Belmont Shore have to be considered one of the favorites to make the top two. They have had an excellent summer in Southern California and have rarely been touched in tournaments. Given the level of talent that shows up in SoCal each week their level of dominance was something to behold. However, if the club has a knock it's that they don't always travel well. That said, given the lead-in time they've had for this tournament they should be fine.

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The Denver Barbarians are a team that can never be counted out. They are simply one of the best teams in the country and we think that they end up winning Pool C and making it at least to the semi-finals. Logan Collins, Max De Achaval, Kevon Williams, Michael Al-Jiboori and a whole host of supporting players make Denver such a strong team. When was the last time they didn't have success? Every single tournament they play in they do well.

Schuylkill River, along with the Beltway Elite, were the two dominant teams in the Mid-Atlantic this year. They are always well coached and have made deep runs before. However, they are going to need to find an extra gear if they want to beat Belmont Shore and the Barbarians. It's certainly possible but they won't be considered favorites in either match. Charlotte similarly have an uphill road. That's not to say they can't make some noise but it will be tough.

Prediction: Belmont Shore and Denver make it through.

Pool D: Chicago Lions, Life West, Optimus, Santa Monica

If you are looking at two early favorites you have to look at the Chicago Lions and Life West. The Gladiators have had a very strong season in NorCal and from top two bottom have one of the best rosters in the country. That said, they will be missing some players who turned out for the U.S.A. Islanders against Saracens earlier in the week. We think that they still have enough depth to win Pool D and make a very far run. It would not be a shock at all to see Life West hoist the trophy at the end of the week.

The Chicago Lions will be their main threat in the pool. The Lions weren't able to book a "golden ticket" out of the Midwest but they weren't far off. The Midwest has traditionally sent some very strong teams to the Club 7s Nationals and playing close to home has to be a boost for the Lions. They also have a lot of talent and if they can get hot, watch out.

Santa Monica are a team that might be able to sneak through. They also have talent and have taken 7s seriously they last couple of years. However, they haven't always had success on the national stage. Optimus are a 7s specific side from Georgia and they could be a surprise but like Charlotte won't be favored.

Prediction: The Lions and Life West are the top two. 

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