GREENWICH, CT – What a crazy finish to the season it was this past weekend. Despite winning the game with no time left over the Stampede, Ohio failed to secure enough standings points win the inaugural PRO Rugby Championship to Denver. San Francisco and Sacramento also played a close match to determine who would win bragging rights of northern California. Let’s break down the matches by the numbers, but first check out our handy-dandy PRO Rugby Stats Glossary:
- Average Penalty Points (APP) – Number of times points are scored off of penalties in the attacking half of the field divided by total penalties awarded in attacking side
- Defensive Hold Average (DHA) – Number of times a team repels its opponent within it’s own 22 meter divided by the number of times opponent enters within 22 meter line.
- Red Zone Point Average (RPA) – Number of times a team gets points when it goes inside the 22 meter line divided by the number of time that team is inside the 22 meter line.
- Attacking Plays – Offloads plus line breaks plus runs >20 meters plus plays of >50 meters
- Penalty Difference – Penalties awarded divided by penalties conceded
- Turnovers – Times the ball changes possession not including penalties. Ex. counter ruck, interception, stolen lineout, etc.
It was a back and forth match but Ohio struck when it had to, just get by with the victory. While the Aviators had a more “explosive” offense – 24 attacking plays compared to the Stampede 13 – they were not the more efficient team on the day. Ohio still had a respectable 56% RPA and 29% DHA while Denver had a stronger 71% and 44% respectively. On top of that, the Stampede had possession of the ball for a whopping 82% of the match. So why did Denver fall short? One reason could be that the Stampede’s Will Magie left 6 points on the board from missed conversions while the Aviators converted 3 of four including two close toe the sideline. Secondly, the Aviators got inside the red zone on 2 more occasions than the Stampede. While Ohio was less likely to score, it made up for that state by putting itself inside the red zone on more occasions. Interestingly, Ohio usually scores many of its tries from far out, but this game all try runs were from within 5 meters out. The Denver defense did a good job at holding Ohio to under 40 for the first time in the last 6 games. Denver won the turnover difference by +2, but lost the penalty difference by -1. Overall it was competitive and anyone’s game. Ultimately it was the kicking game that won it for the Aviators. Besides its more successful conversions, it also had one more penalty kick than the Stampede which decided the game. Ohio won 32-25, but Denver just barely escaped with the championship by one point.
San Francisco has looked strong the last few games of the season and it continued that against Sacramento on Saturday. The Rush was in control for most of the game, but let the Express back into it in the second half. Statistically the two teams differed the most on APP where San Francisco had 44% and Sacramento had 25%, and attacking plays with the Rush with 16 and the Express with 5. Like Ohio, Sacramento scored all of its tries on runs from within 5 meters. The Express lacked a threat from its back as the forwards did most of the work of driving the ball down the field. Once in the attacking half, Sacramento wasn’t able to capitalize on the Rush’s mistakes while the opposite was true for San Francisco despite having a penalty differential of -6. Devereaux Ferris stood out at scrum half for the Rush as he helped command the attack. 3 of the Rush’s tries were from runs of >20 meters and it also had 2 plays of >50 meters while Sacramento had only 1 run of >20 meters. San Francisco also stood out with a 75% RPA which reflects its ability to finish plays while threatening the try zone. Interestingly both teams tied on turnover given with at net of 0. The end score was 37-34. While that seems close, the Express scored with no time left and had no real threat of taking the lead.
With the season over, the final standings had 1. Denver, 2. Ohio, 3. San Diego, 4. San Francisco, and 5. Sacramento. You could make an argument that Ohio deserved the championship based on how it has been playing recently but I’ll present some discussion next week when I compile the season totals for the Pro Rugby season and give my two cents on team performances.
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