Week 9 came, week 9 went, and Ohio left with it not only as winners, but as the new holders of second place in PRO Rugby North America’s inaugural season.
This game was, by all accounts, supposed to be a close one. This didn’t end up being the case, however, as the Ohio Aviators ran away with it by the middle of the second half, allowing the game to end with a final score of 55-29 over San Diego.
Watching the Breakers this week, it was hard to believe that this was (almost) the same team that stood toe to toe with Denver last Sunday, coming within a single point of first place. Now, they are on the outside looking in, tied at 22 points with Ohio.
When I say this was ‘almost’ the same team that took on Denver, I’m making light of the fact that the Breakers took the field today without three of their most play-making members: Hubert Buydens (Prop), Phil ‘The Dragon’ Mackenzie (Center), and Mikey Te’o (Fullback).
The loss of three superb players and leaders is bad enough. On top of that, this game saw four more San Diego players hit the ground with injury. By match’s end, the bench looked like a hospital ward of car crash victims.
The game began with Ohio doing what they do best, which is score tries. Dominic Waldouck, who made his PRO Rugby Ohio debut in amazing fashion today, secured not only the first score of the day, but he would go on to put down two more before 80 minutes had been reached. Talk about making an early impression.
Ohio would do well enough through the first half, retaining possession and winning the rucks. San Diego laid down what were a few massive hits, but the likes of Jamie Mackintosh and Demecus Beach could not be intimidated, as they and the rest of Ohio’s forwards would regularly plow through 2, sometimes even 3 or 4 San Diego defenders before being brought down.
San Diego (as usual) showed that their wings are among some of the fastest and most athletic in American Rugby. However, they were haunted all game by big breaks being called back for penalties, or otherwise stupid drops and overthrows, which resulted in turnover, after turnover, after…well, you get the idea.
Even when the Breaker offense wasn’t shooting themselves in the foot by practically handing the ball off to Aviator players, Ohio was doing a jolly good job themselves of playing defense. Knowing that the Breakers were devoid of explosive playmakers such as Te’o and Mackenzie who could score off the wing from far out on a break, all Ohio had to do was cut down on the mistakes within San Diego’s Kurt Morath’s range, and let their goal-line defense do the rest, as San Diego was denied at the door, time and time again.
The second half started with some hope, as San Diego was only down 22 points to 17 at the end of the first half. That hope would get extinguished quickly though, as San Diego seemed to come out half asleep in the second, while Ohio came out looking to put the nails in the coffin.
The tired San Diego squad did what they could to quell Ohio’s massive forwards from advancing, but it proved to be futile as Davis, Howden and Waldouck would all find the try zone in the second half, allowing the Aviators to break 50 points for the second time at home this season.
The end of the game saw a late resurgence by the Breakers that would come as too little, too late, when Ben Leatigaga and Zachary Pangelinan pulled off two acrobatic tries. The last ditch effort would at least earn the SoCal squad a bonus point in the standings.
As FrozenOne said in making his picks, this game came down to defense (or lack of), and San Diego’s ability (or inability) to find the try zone. Though this team, when healthy, boasts one of the most talented rosters in North America, they have got to learn how to finish games while relying on more than just the crazy accuracy of Kurt Morath (who, by the way, pushed his season point total to 95 today).
Ohio, despite a slight hiccup in a game vs The Rush, might stand the best chance of taking down the top ranked Denver, simply through their ability to get tries. If their defense can find a way to shut down the Stampede’s attack, the quest for first place might get that much more interesting.
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Penguin Tundra Sports Blog was created in 2016 by a very bored college student who was obsessed with Rugby and Football. That same college student knew how to write pseudo-intelligently, so what better way to show off than to create a blog. Along your journey though the Tundra's domain, you may come across outlandish opinions, horrible spelling errors, and some shit that is just outright wrong. Well then, you should comment, give my blog more attention, and we will have our day in internet court. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy talking about sports as much as I do.
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