After months of anticipation the 2016 season is here! Building off two strong years the competition is set for an even better third season. Glendale and the SFGG Rhinos have been the top two teams in the first two years but there are five other teams ready to knock them off beginning this weekend.
SFGG Rhinos vs. Belmont Shore (3:00 p.m. pt, Treasure Island, Stream TBD)
It’s only week one but already this match feels like it has title match implications. SFGG have made the final the first two years while Belmont Shore have threatened at times ultimately to fall short. They want to avoid that this year with a key win on the road over a rival opponent. On the other hand, SFGG will want to start out the season strong to let other teams know they still mean business.
The Rhinos, besides the name change, return their core team from last year. It begins in the backs where last year’s leading try scorer Pila Huihui leads a group that includes second leading try scorer Mile Pulu, Samsoni Pone, Jack Halalilo, and Tai Enosa and Volney Rouse at the halfbacks. SFGG are going to try and get the back out often. Up front, they have the power to be good in the line out with Brendan Daly and have solid players at the breakdown. They also have new Eagles call-up Bruce Thomas starting. All in all, a tough task for Belmont Shore.
For their part, Belmont Shore have also added some names while keeping their core group together. World Cup veteran Joe Taufete’e is in the line-up before heading out to join up with the Eagles with teammate Mike Te’o. The club is also excited about the addition of scrumhalf Nick Simmons. While the core group remains the new faces could mean that it takes time for the team to gel. They’ve looked good in DI matches but will need to step it up against the Rhinos.
Olympic Club vs. Glendale Raptors (1:00 p.m. pt, Treasure Island, Stream TBD)
The Glendale Raptors had a very tough end to their preseason last Saturday in a tight loss to the Seattle Saracens. That match will have served them well as it got them adjusted to being on the road and playing against a top team. As champions from last year the Raptors will have a target on their back. Also with Eagles call-ups Hanco Germishuys, Niku Kruger, and Chad London all in the starting line-up they are going to cause problems. From top to bottom Glendale have threats.
Olympic Club have added Cal grads Alec Gletzer and Jake Anderson in the offseason but unfortunately for the team neither is in the line-up as they get ready for Eagles camp. Still, Olympic Club have stars in Keegan Engelbrecht, one of the most consistent boots in the competition, John Gallo, Colin Hawley, and Darrell Honaker. They probably won’t be favored in this match but playing at home in the first game of the season is going to shake things up.
OMBAC vs. Denver Barbarians (3:00 p.m. pt, Little Q)
Both OMBAC and Denver would like to have better seasons. Both were solid in the first two years and OMBAC came the closest to threatening the duopoly of Glendale and SFGG last year they still fell just short. Denver have gone on solid runs every year but have yet to be consistent enough to break through. Now with the new season underway they have a chance to start fresh.
Denver make the trip to San Diego with veterans Brendan Shea, Logan Collins, and Elliot Dillon-Herzog in tow but are missing Max De Achaval. That loss to hurt has De Achaval has been one of the best play makers in the league. Coming into the team is Michael Al-Jiboori, who should bring some solid attack.
OMBAC have kept their team together but have added Kalei Konrad at fly-half and Oliver L’Estrange in the backs. Konrad could be the breakout star of the PRP this year. That said, most of the action for OMBAC centers around Zach Panglelinan. He can kick and he can score tries out of nothing. If he is firing then OMBAC have the advantage.