By Liam Madigan-Fried
Two top-notch squads of North America are set to do battle this Saturday after walking away from different results the previous week. The James Bay Athletic Association, who are coming off a commanding victory over the Seattle Saracens 25-10, and the Houston SaberCats, who came close but no cigar to upsetting the 18th ranked Uruguay National Team, but ultimately fell 32-24.
After three matches to date, it’s pretty clear what the SaberCats’ strengths are. Their defensive play is solid, with a litany of powerful players who make the opposition have to fight for every meter gained. Plus, with Zach Pangelinan acting as the last line of defense at fullback, teams are wary about sending it his way for fear he might take it the distance, or at least pin them back farther than where they started using his own powerful boot.
Then, there is their scrum, which absolutely bullied Uruguay in the first half of last Saturday’s game. For Houston to come away with the win, the front line trio of Dever, Maquieira, and Macklin need to keep that momentum going consistently. However, dominance in the scrum is not always conducive to wins, which is what we’ve seen the last two weeks from the SaberCats since their blowout victory over Seattle.
Even without the ‘professional’ designation, James Bay Athletic Club is no joke. True, their victory over Seattle didn’t come to the tune of 50-7 or whatever that hell it was, but after heading into halftime with a 16-10 lead, they held Seattle to 0 points the rest of the way to a 25-10 victory. Overall, they have proven to be a troubling and challenging opponent for many teams in the BC Premiere League, currently sitting at fifth place in the standings with a record of 7-5. For some perspective, the UBCOB Ravens, Houston’s week two opponent who gave them their first ever loss, currently sits at second in the BC Premiere rankings with a record of 10-2, while Seattle rests at 5-7.
If you want to get really analytical about it (and you know I am, otherwise I wouldn’t have used that transition) let’s take a look at how each team has been at scoring over their last three games:
James Bay (Last Three Games):
Opponents- vs SEATTLE (WIN), vs UBC (LOSS), vs U OF VICTORIA (WIN)
Average Tries per Game: 3.6
Average Points per Game: 25.3
Houston (Last Three Games):
Opponents- vs URUGUAY (LOSS), vs UBCOB RAVENS (Loss), vs SEATTLE (WIN)
Average Tries per Game: 4.6
Average Points per Game: 32.3
Over the course of the last three games, Houston has averaged one more try and seven more points with two losses than James Bay has with two victories in their last three games. If these numbers remain consistent in Saturday’s bout, Houston might be able to ride its scrum and defense to a victory as long as they can put up points early like they did vs the Ravens and Uruguay. For James Bay to win, they will need to show the kind of offensive play they did against U. Victoria when they put up 4 tries to seal the deal.
James Bay: 25
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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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