In the final week before the competition takes a break for the Vegas 7s there are three big matches that could set up teams for the second half of the season.
SFGG Rhinos vs. Olympic Club (1:00 p.m.; Treasure Island; Live on USARugbyTV.com)
SFGG suffered a setback last weekend when they lost a tight match to the Glendale Raptors. It was a victory there for the taking and they will be upset they let it get away. This week they will face a tough Olympic Club team that has had some close results but is looking for the first win of the season.
Returning to the line-up for the Rhinos is Pila Huihui. who will line-up at center with Mile Pulu. The forwards are solid for SFGG and that’s what lets them set up their backs for a number of tries. Defensively, SFGG are near the top of the competition and they will look go keep that up.
Olympic Club are still missing Jake Anderson and Alec Gletzer to Eagles duty but they did see Isaac Helu come into the starting line-up. Helu is an very underrated player and with a good season in the PRP could be set for more. Olympic Club have been close in nearly all their matches but are missing something to put them over the top. Maybe that’s what rivalry matches are for–to deliver that something.
Denver Barbarians vs. Belmont Shore (3:00 p.m.; Long Beach State University)
Both Belmont Shore and Denver come into the match off wins. Belmont Shore pasted Santa Monica while a hat-trick from Michael Al-Jiboori put Denver over Olympic Club. The Barbarians are going to need more of Al-Jiboori this week. Max De Achaval is in the line-up and should help out but the team needs contributions from all players.
Belmont Shore have now won two in a row after losing to SFGG in the first week of the season. The club has serious ambitions of finishing in the final and that means beating teams like Denver. Mike Te’o and Joe Taufete’e are missing to Eagles duty but playing at home they are hard to beat.
Santa Monica vs. OMBAC (3:00 p.m.; Daniel Webster Middle School)
Santa Monica are reeling. For the first couple years of the competition scoring hadn’t been a problem for the Dolphins and it was their defense that let them down. The defense is still an issue this year but now they aren’t really scoring either. Missing Harry Bennett hurt last week and it’s going to hurt this week.
OMBAC have only a loss to Glendale on their books and have picked up two big wins outside of that result. Like Belmont Shore, they think they can upset the duopoly of SFGG-Glendale but it can only come with a big win over Santa Monica. The good news for OMBAC is that they are playing well.