Sunday marks the half-way point of PRO Rugby’s inaugural 16-week season.
Sunday also happens to play host to what is sure to be one the season’s most entertaining contests to date, when the top ranked Denver squad takes on the red-hot San Diego. PTSB takes a look at how these teams stack up against one another.
Veterans Provide a Kick-Start to the Early Success
So far, Denver has steam rolled the competition on their way to a 5-0 record, with a point differential of +52. That success, due mainly to Denver’s ability to smother their opponent’s attempts of moving the ball seconds out of the ruck, is prolonged even further by their ability to put points on the board in both halves consistently, thanks in large part to the boot of Will Magie (41 points, Pen: 7, Conv: 10).
But, if kicking the ball and securing points is one way to victory, San Diego is well ahead in that department, as Fly-Half Kurt Morath currently leads the league in scoring with a whopping 68 points, all coming from the tip of his boot (Conv: 10, Pen: 16). Morath has yet to find the Try-zone this season, but that so far has not seemed to slow him down in leading his team to victory.
Both Impressive and Not so Impressive Play Out Wide
The great successes of Magie and Morath shouldn’t detract from what has been some impressive, though at times sloppy, play from each side’s wings. Denver’s Chad London (Center/Fly-Half) and San Diego’s Phil Mackenzie both crack the top ten in tries scored so far with 3 apiece. Though one is almost sure to pull ahead of the other after the conclusion of Sunday’s match.
Even without putting up huge points, there are members of each squad who have made impacts in their own right. Anybody who has watched a single San Diego match has heard the names (and seen the hair and beards) of Full Back Mikey Teo and Prop Hubert Buydens. Teo acts almost a set of moving goal posts when it comes down to him being the last line of defense during an attacking wing’s break away. And Buydens….well just look at him:
What do you think he brings to the scrum table?
Denver isn’t short on large, physical players in the slightest, and Teo is going to have to prove he can bring down huge running targets such as Oklahoma standout Michael Al-Jiboori and former Springbok Pedrie Wannenburg. Hooker Zach Fenoglio also stands to pose a threat to San Diego’s defense, holding three tries himself on the season.
However, as previously stated, both sides (and just about every team this year) has seen some very sloppy play this year when it comes to passing the ball. Some of these quick, no-look passes we’ve seen being attempted this year might in theory look good on a highlight reel, but when the Sir has to stop the match every few seconds for a knock-on and a subsequent scrum, that can lead to a loss of momentum for both sides, and a whole lot more frustration for the fans.
So Who Goes Home a Winner?
It’s a tough call for this one. I doubted Denver the first two weeks in a row, and here they stand at 5-0, as a well-oiled and battle tested unit. Yet, here San Diego is on a three game win streak with both an offensive and defensive strategy that for the most part seem to be clicking.
I’m going to go with Denver on this one. They seem destined to be the Champions at the end of all of this, and they seem to get better every week.
San Diego: 26
I’m going to say Kurt Morath has great day with at least 4 penalty kicks and 2 try conversions, but Denver’s size and efficient wings get the best of a talented San Diego unit.
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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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