Glendale Raptors vs. San Francisco Golden Gate (1:00 p.m. MT, Infinity Park, live here)
Simply put it’s the biggest match of the season so far. For a year and a half Glendale and SFGG and slugged it out four times for bragging rights as the top team in the competition. So far each team has two wins and two losses. However, SFGG were the winners in last year’s final, something they are justifiably proud of and something Glendale want to change. Each team comes into the match riding big wins last week and with only one loss on the season. SFGG’s loss came at the hands of Glendale all the way back in week three where SFGG let an eight point lead slip away in the last part of the match.
In addition to being another match in the intense rivalry it also has plenty of implications for who might make the final at the end of the year. Glendale currently top the standings with 30 points while SFGG are second with 25 points with five matches left int he season. A win for SFGG would put the two teams into a tie for first place while a win for Glendale will almost certainly seal a spot in the finals if not the regular season title. Additionally, an SFGG loss would allow Belmont Shore, who have a bye this week, to potentially leapfrog them in the standings and making their end of season match that much more meaningful.
Both teams are operating at near full strength for the match. Tai Enosa is a welcome return to the SFGG line-up. Not only does he add another kicking dimension if needed but he’s a dynamic playmaker and some of SFGG’s offensive difficulties this season can be traced to his absence. The San Francisco side will be without Don Pati, however. Glendale are missing Christian Wiessing to the Junior All-Americans and are missing Preston Bryant. He’s replaced by Dewon Reed.
There are must-watch match-ups throughout the roster. In the props there is Nick Wallace vs. Patrick Latu, the locks have Brendan Daly vs. Luke White, the centers are Armandt Peens and Chad London vs. Mile Pulu and Bubba Jones, and then there is try scoring machine Dustin Croy against Enosa at fullback.
Glendale have been very strong at home and haven’t shown many weaknesses since their week one loss to OMBAC. However, they haven’t had perfect matches and there is room for SFGG to attack. Golden Gate hasn’t exactly traveled well this season but they have shown signs over the last few weeks that they are finding their form. All in all, this could be a finals preview so expect it to be intense.
Denver Barbarians vs. Santa Monica (1:00 p.m. MT, Infinity Park, live here)
This is a make or break week for the Denver Barbarians as they host Santa Monica. The Dolphins are above the Barbarians in the standings by a point but have played one more game and have a 2-4-1 record. At this point it would take something very special for them to make the playoffs. Denver also need some help to make the playoffs but at 3-3 have a much better chance of breaking through with a win. The Barbarians can’t afford to fall to four losses on the season as it would pretty much rule out their playoff hopes.
Santa Monica won the first meeting between the team back in wok three with a 45-13 blowout loss. Since then the Dolphins have been slipping while the Barbarians have been improved. If their current form holds the Barbarians should like their chances in the match. Not helping things is the injury to scrumhalf Charlie Purdon for Santa Monica. One fun match-up to watch on Saturday will be play of Ata Malifa and Harry Bennett at fly-half.
Olympic Club vs. OMBAC (3:00 p.m. PT, Treasure Island)
OMBAC have a big uphill battle to make the playoffs. They have had some solid results this season but over the last few weeks have seen their hard work be for naught. They will once again be missing Todd Clever this weekend and will be without the services of Yoshio Kimishima. However, they do have Eagles 7s players Steve Tomasin, Ben Leatigaga, and Will Holder all in the line-up. With Zach Pangelinan at the helm they can attack with the best of them but will need a big performance this week if they want to make noise at the end of the season. For Olympic Club, it’s about trying to get that first week of the season. Facing a struggling OMBAC team at Treasure Island may be the ticket but they will be without Darrell Honaker this week, their best prop.