The Elite Cup finishes up for the West teams as Glendale goes to SFGG in San Francisco, and OPSB hosts Denver.
SFGG has continued to play good rugby in DI and Elite Cup. Heine McFarland has been a superb addition at fullback, and their midfield of Mile Pulu and Soni Pone is working well together. Their back row (Danny LaPrevotte, Tevita Koloamatangi, and Bruce Thomas) is smart and active, with Koloamatangi on the scoresheet frequently.
But the central figures for SFGG have been the central figures during their run to championships for the last few years –LaPrevotte at flanker, Mose Timoteo at scrumhalf, and Chris Biller at hooker, with Volney Rouse at flyhalf. The club runs because these guys are smart, play well, and lead.
All of the players mentioned will start Saturday.
At 2-0 SFGG should expect to win again and host a semifinal match, but they could well be upended by a Glendale team that is starting to look more and more comfortable. Chad London and Zach Paga played very well against OPSB in their 49-39 victory last weekend, and up front Zach Fenoglio may not have been completely match fit as he comes back from injury, but he was effective. And this week, he gets to play at sea level.
But the guy everyone had to notice for Glendale was Shaun Davies. He played a very nice scrumhalf, wriggled his way through for a try, and was brilliant with his goalkicking, which was crucial for the Raptors because OPSB’s kicked well, also.
“The team was really looking forward to the challenge that we knew OPSB was going to bring,” said Davies. “We hadn't played much rugby since the Barbarians game, so we all had something to prove and hopefully we can continue to improve going forward. It was a great team effort this past weekend, obviously we still have a lot to work on but we have definitely taken a step in the right direction. I thought our forwards did a great job in putting us into scoring opportunities, and when a team is under pressure they are going to give away penalties. Thankfully I made most of my kicks.”
SFGG knows they cannot afford to commit penalties this weekend.
Meanwhile OPSB hosts Denver in another key matchup. OPSB is 0-2, and Denver 1-1, but they are not out of it by any stretch of the imagination.
Paced by some good work from Taylor Howden and the speedy Phil White, Denver can score from anywhere, and whether it’s Howden or Max de Achaval, they also can get points through the boot.
OPSB has played better than they did against Glendale. Their biggest strength is their speed, so passing in a way that leaves the catcher flat-footed doesn’t help them. Still they put up 39 on Glendale and 27 on SFGG. Defense remains an issue, but offense is not a concern.
The top two teams in each conference of the Elite Cup play in the semis – so SFGG might be hosting Glendale again very soon.
No team is out of it yet. Here’s how the scenarios play out for each team:
In the semis if they win, tie, earn two bonus points in a loss, or if Denver fails to win.
Out if they lose with no bonus point and Denver wins with a bonus point.
In the semis if they win, or if they tie and Denver loses. If they lose and OPSB beats Denver, can still make semis on points difference.
Out if they lose and Denver wins or ties.
In the semis if they equal or do better than Glendale this weekend.
Out if they do worse.
In the semis if they win with a bonus point and both Denver and Glendale lose with no bonus points.
Out any other way.