This is it! From the beginning of the season in January to now every team in the competition has been battling against one another. Now as the competition enters its final weekend, four teams–Glendale, SFGG, Belmont Shore, and OMBAC–are still very much alive in the hunt for two playoff spots. A breakdown of the different scenarios is here as well as line-ups for each team.
SFGG vs. Belmont Shore (3:00 p.m. PT, Treasure Island)
This match is the one to watch this weekend as both SFGG and Belmont Shore have a shot at the playoffs. SFGG sit in the best position playing at home and with a four point lead over Belmont in the standings. They are also coming off a smashing win over Santa Monica. SFGG will be missing Seamus Kelly to Eagles duty, but overall the entire back corp has played very, very well this season.
Scoring hasn’t really been an issue for the team, having scored the most points and tries in the league. They’ve also had the stingiest defense. That could be a big advantage as Belmont Shore have only scored more points this year than Olympic Club. That said, their defense is second only to SFGG. Expect both of these teams to fight hard in the breakdown and don’t be surprised if it comes down to penalties.
If that’s the case both teams have multiple players that can step up and make kicks. The match also features several standouts, including Mike Te’o. He’s been an MVP candidate this season for Belmont. For SFGG it’s their forwards. The entire forward pack has flown under the radar this year, but they are very good. The clubs drew 24-24 in their previous meeting.
Olympic Club vs. Glendale Raptors (1:00 p.m. PT, Treasure Island)
Glendale can be the first team to officially book their spot in the playoffs if they take away a single point against Olympic Club. On paper it looks like that might come in the first half as Glendale have been scoring well lately, while Olympic Club has had defensive issues. The Raptors will once again be missing their Eagles–Nick Wallace, Chad London, and Zach Fenoglio–and that has seen them play tighter matches in recent weeks. For Olympic Club the match is about ending the season on a positive note.
OMBAC vs. Denver Barbarians (3:00 p.m. PT, Little Q)
OMBAC are the only team that don’t directly control their destiny. Even if they pull out a full point win over Denver, they are still going to need Belmont Shore to beat SFGG but take away no bonus points. OMBAC have had some turnover this year, namely Zach Pangelinan heading to Eagles duty, Yoshio Kimishima only playing a handful of games, and Todd Clever getting injured. However, through all of that turnover they have been solid and have played attacking rugby. Brian Doyle and Paul Derham have been fantastic for the team. Kalei Konrad has also filled in well in place of Pangelinan. Playing at home should also be a big boost for the team.
Denver enter the match wanting to finish the season at .500. They’ve been back and forth all year winning one week and losing the next. They have played some of the most attractive rugby in the competition, but haven’t always been rewarded. Look for Ata Malifa and Max De Achaval to put forth full efforts this weekend.