PRO Rugby San Diego vs Denver: Week 3 Preview

April 29, 2016

PRO Rugby San Diego vs Denver: Week 3 Preview

Doug Coil

PRO Rugby enters week 3, with two undefeated teams facing off. Denver travels to San Diego and tops the standings with a 2-0 record. They traveled to San Francisco last weekend and came home with a 35-18 win against San Francisco. In week one they came back to beat Ohio in extra time 16-13.

San Diego won their initial match last week against Sacramento 37-24. San Diego took a 24-3 halftime lead on the strength of four Kurt Morath penalty kicks and a conversion and tries by Mikey Te’o and Phil Mackenzie. Harry Bennett kicked a penalty kick for Sacramento.

During the second half, Sacramento fashioned three tries from forwards Kyle Sumsion, Ray Barkwill and Robert Meeson, all converted, while Cecil Garber and Mikey Te’o had tries for San Diego. Kurt Morath added his fifth penalty kick of the day.

San Diego has a scoring weapon in Kurt Morath, who will punish mistakes inside mid-field. San Diego proved against Sacramento that they could attack the perimeters. Their backs were willing to attack from deep in their territory. Three of their four tries were made by the backs. Quick ball from Charlie Purdon to Kurt Morath made Tim Stanfill, Phil Mackenzie, Ryan Matyas, Pono Haitsuka and Mikey Te’o all threats.

San Diego forwards were impacted last week when Brian Doyle left the match very early. Both Hubert Buydens and Mikey Sosene-Feagai, along with Doyle have been internationally capped. The other forwards include, Sam Taungakava at prop. David Dolinar teams with Doyle at Lock, while the back row has powerful eight-man Sione Tuihalamaka and flankers Cecil Garber and Nikola Bursic, who is from Chile.

Denver, like Sacramento, has an advantage in the scrums and in attacks by the forwards. Denver was able to attack with their forwards in the red zone and often came away with points.

Pedrie Wannenburg is an excellent leader, teaming with other backrow players, Logan Collins and Peter Dahl. The front row of Luke White, Zach Fenoglio and Ben Tarr has been outstanding. Christian Wiessing and Casey Rock provided stability in the set pieces.

In the backs, Niku Kruger has been providing quick ball to Will Magie setting up attacks by Ata Malifa and Chad London. The wings have changed, but Martin Knoetze was very active against Ohio two weeks ago and Timana Tahu made his presence felt when he entered last week’s match.

The match keys will depend on Denver’s ability to pick up the pace of their coverage defense and minimize errors. San Diego will need to find a way to slow the forwards attacking threat.

San Diego did not make any changes in their squad from last week. Denver has made two changes in the wings with Timana Tahu and Martin Knoetze. Tahu entered the match during the second half last week and made an impact, while Knoetze returns as a starter from week one. As reserves, Chris Baumann is ready to make an impact at prop. Ben Tarr has been outstanding at tighthead in the first two matches. Brian Wanless also is a reserve.

Denver vs San Francisco Recap Week 2

San Diego Squad: 1 Hubert Buydens 2 Mikey Sosene-Feagai 3 Sam Taungakava 4 David Dolinar 5 Brian Doyle 6 Nikola Bursic 7 Cecil Garber 8 Sione Tuihalamaka 9 Charlie Purdon 10 Kurt Morath 11 Tim Stanfill 12Phil Mackenzie 13 Ryan Matyas 14 Pono Haitsuka 15 Mikey Te’o 16 Tim Barford 17 Epi Kalemani 18 Kakalia Pule 19 Tai Tuisamoa 20 Chris Turori 21 Tom Bliss 22 Kalei Konrad 23 Ben Leatigaga Coaches: Head Coach – Ray Egan Assistant Coaches: Matt Hawkins, Rob Hoadley Manager: Sean Lindersmith

Denver Squad: 1 Luke White 2 Zach Fenoglio 3 Ben Tarr 4 Christian Wiessing  5 Casey Rock 6 Logan Collins 7 Peter Dahl 8 Pedrei Wannenburg (C) 9 Niku Kruger 10 Will Magie 11 Timana Tahu 12 Ata Malifa 13 Chad London 14 Martin Knoetze 15 Max de Achaval 16 Nick Wallace 17 Jake Turnbull 18 Bobby Impson 19 Brian Wanless 20 Chris Baumann 21 Mose Timateo 22 Mike Garrity 23 Gannon Moore Coaches: Head Coach – Sean O’Leary, Assistant Coaches: Peter Borlase, David Williams Technical Advisor: Andre Snyman Manager: Kieran Browner

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