PHILADELPHIA, PA – The San Francisco backdrop at Boxer Stadium for PRO Rugby matches is picturesque. Unfortunately for the crowd, much of the home team’s performance did not live up to the picturesque setting. Denver had the dominant scrum and better fundamental skills on the day and won 35-18.
The match got off to a halting start. For patches of the first half, it seemed that every breakdown resulted in a penalty.
Each side kicked a penalty goal early, and San Francisco crossed for the first try. Niku Kruger took a penalty quickly, but Denver then lost possession. First, Alec Gletzer made a good run after gaining possession, and then Volney Rouse scooped the ball from the deck superbly before passing to Sam Finau who scored the try. Rouse could not convert, so San Francisco was up 8-3.
San Francisco kept the momentum and held on to the ball long enough to set winger Jack O’Hara free down the touchline. After 27 minutes, San Francisco was up 13-3.
Following that try though, was a long cold stretch for San Francisco. Denver got everyone involved in attack and moved play into the San Francisco 22 before knocking on. However, Denver stole the ensuing scrum and Pedrie Wannenburg scored Denver’s first try. Wannenburg and his fellow loose forwards, Peter Dahl and Logan Collins all had good matches.
The next points for Denver came from another scrum. This time, they won a penalty from a San Francisco scrum about 20 meters out and Will Magie kicked successfully. Denver got back into San Francisco territory only to knock on again. But another stolen scrum led to another try, this one for Collins.
After 40 minutes, it was Denver in the lead 18-13. 15 of those first half points for Denver were produced by their scrum.
The second half started with more trouble for San Francisco. From the restart, they tried to run the ball out from inside their 22 only to knock in on. Denver had no trouble with the scrum, and Ata Malifa scored a simple-seeming try on the first phase.
10 minutes later, Denver was again within sniffing distance of the try zone. This time, they won a free kick from their own scrum. Zach Fenoglio, who had moved to flanker, took the quick tap and dove over. After 54 minutes, Denver were up 28-13, and there wasn’t much indication of a comeback.
Shortly after Fenoglio’s try, Jake Anderson threw a pass straight to Michael Al-Jiboori to help put Denver back into a good position. Collins scored again from a 5 meter Denver scrum to get Denver the bonus point and fully deflate the home-opener balloons in Boxer Stadium. 20 minutes to play, Denver 35, San Francisco 13.
San Francisco did not quit, but they could not hang on to the ball long enough to put Denver under any real pressure. They also saw Finau sent off with a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. At the dying moments, though, San Francisco did reward their fans with a final surge into the Denver 22. David Tamileau, whose debut for the USA Eagles was miles better than his PRO Rugby debut, powered into the try zone.
On the positive for San Francisco, Orene Ai’a started to show the kind of flair that could tear defenses apart.
Final score: Denver 35-18 San Francisco.
San Francisco: 1 Maka Tameilau 2 Jay Finau 3 Patrick Latu 4 Siupeli Sakalia 5 Siaosi Mahoni 6 Sam Finau 7 Alec Gletzer 8 David Tameilau 9 Devereaux Ferris 10 Orene Ai’i 11 Jack O’Hara 12 Martini Talapusi 13 Nick Blevins 14 Volney Rouse 15 Jake Anderson 16 Tom Coolican 17 Fancy Namulau’ili 18 Codi Jones 19 Isaac Helu 20 Junior Helu 21 Michael Reid 22 Michael Haley 23 Charles Mateo
Denver: 1 Luke White 2 Zach Fenoglio 3 Ben Tarr 4 Christian Wiessing 5 Casey Rock 6 Logan Collins 7 Peter Dahl 8 Pedrie Wannenburg 9 Niku Kruger 10 Will Magie 11 Michael Al-Jiboori 12 Ata Malifa 13 Chad London 14 Dustin Croy 15 Max de Achaval 16 Nick Wallace 17 Jake Turnbull 18 Soane Leger 19 Gannon Moore 20 Bobby Ipson 21 Mose Timoteo 22 Mike Garrity 23 Timana Tahu
With two weekends complete, here is the league table.
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