Glendale Raptors vs. Denver Barbarians (3:00 p.m. MT, Infinity Park, live stream available here)
The Raptors are on a roll having won their last three matches, including their home opener against Belmont Shore last weekend all while missing five key players. Those players are back and should be a big asset to the team this week as they play rivals Denver. Prop Nick Wallace and hooker Zach Fenolgio were both at Eagles camp and should make the pack even more effective than it was last week. Chad London also provides plenty of pop in the centers and should give the team an added scoring punch. Mose Timoteo may be the oldest player out on the pitch for the Raptors but he has been incredibly valuable this season and when he is on his game the Raptors offense has been hard to stop.
Still, the Raptors haven’t been perfect and they have shown at times that they are vulnerable. No team knows those vulnerabilities better than rivals the Denver Barbarians. Having been rivals for so long, including players going between the teams (Ata Malifa and Justin Pauga have played for both the Raptors and Barbarians), the Barbarians are extremely familiar with the Raptors. Max De Achaval is the centerpiece for Denver but will also need big contributions from Brendan Shea, Logan Collins, Ata Malifa, and Elliott Dillon-Herzog. The team will also have Ben Pinkelman, who was in Eagles camp, available for the match. All in all it should be barnburner. For the Barbarians a win would put them in the chase for a top two spot while a loss would make it difficult to finish in the top two without help.
Olympic Club vs. Belmont Shore (1:00 p.m. PT, Treasure Island)
Olympic Club and Belmont Shore enter their match coming off losses in Colorado. Olympic Club lost their match in heartbreaking fashion as they were only seconds away from a win when the Barbarians scored the winning try. Despite the loss it was another improved performance from Olympic Club. As the season has gone on they have improved every match without the elusive win. They’ve even shifted some things around this week in an effort to earn that win as Michael Haley takes over the fly-half duties and Keegan Engelbrecht slides to fullback. Colin Hawley also returns and should bolster the centers. Of all their matches so far this season Saturday’s match represents their best chance yet for a victory.
Belmont Shore are reeling. After winning their first two matches thanks to missed conversions from their opponents the club has lost two in a row and come into the match against Olympic Club beat up with coach Ray Egan being forced to suit up as well as being thin on forward replacements. They will also have to travel once again which could add to the exhaustion factor. Belmont have also made changes, most notably Nese Malifa coming in at fly-half and Andrew Jackson, their leading kicker, being moved to the bench.
SFGG vs. Santa Monica (3:00 p.m. PT, Treasure Island)
The last match of the round will feature SFGG returning from their bye week to take on Santa Monica. SFGG are co-leaders at the top of the table and have had some large wins but have also had some closer margins of victory. They will be favorites in this match but if they are to establish the same fear they put into other teams last year they will need to impress. The good news for the club is that Volney Rouse is back to health and will start at fly-half. He joins a back corp that has Don Pati, Pila Huihui, Mile Pulu, Seamus Kelly, Bubba Jones, and Tai Enosa. That’s a lot of experience that could cause trouble for the Dolphins.
Santa Monica enter the match riding the efforts of Charlie Purdon, who has been one of the best newcomers to the league this season. However, the team will be missing Mathieu Lesgourgues who has been a big part of their side over the last two years. Like Belmont Shore, Santa Monica have had their turn as league leaders but have fallen off as of late and now sit with a 2-3 record. They will need to be competitive with SFGG this week to give themselves a chance at the end of the season.