The SFGG Rhinos have kept their hopes alive heading into next week’s big showdown with the Glendale Raptors by beating the Denver Barbarians 41-26 at Infinity Park. The match was close for most of the time with SFGG only holding a 27-16 lead with thirty minutes remain. However, a strong final quarter of the match was enough to propel the Rhinos to the win.
The Rhinos playoff hopes now likely hinge on a strong showing against the Raptors next weekend. Failing to pick up points will mean they will likely need help if they want to catch OMBAC, even with a match against OMBAC looming in the second to last week of the season. For the Barbarians they fall to 2-6 on the season and will be left answering more questions about finishing matches strong.
Playing at home the Barbarians came out on fire and scored a try through center Kyle Hitt just three minutes into the match. Tai Enosa and Max De Achaval, two of the best kickers in the competition, then traded penalties before a try from hooker Neill Barrett leveled things up at 10-10 with less than 15 minutes played.
SFGG would then go on a run that would put daylight between them and the Barbarians. Tevita Okusi would grab a try in the 17th minute and then Travis Benson would add one seven minutes before the break. Just on the other side of the half Brendan Daly would score a try for SFGG to increase their lead.
De Achaval would have two penalties to bring the Barbarians within 11 with thirty minutes to play but a tries from Tomasi Funaki and Jeff Colata would give SFGG a 41-16 advantage. Denver did make a small run at the end with tries close together from Jeremy Misailegalu and Daniel Bell but it was too little too late.
The win also keeps the Papa Naqica Cup in SFGG’s hands.
Tries: Barrett, T. Okusi, Benson, Daly, Funaki, Colata
Conversions: Enosa (4)
Tries: Hitt, Misailegalu, Bell
Conversions: De Achaval
Penalties: De Achaval (3)