OPSB rolls into Glendale, Colo. this weekend for the second Elite Cup match for both teams, and with both trying to shake off an 0-1 start.
OPSB were beaten in a close one by SFGG 36-27 on March 23. Glendale also lost a tight contest, 33-28 to Denver a week before.
The closeness of the games should give both the Beach Dogs and the Raptors reason for optimism.
“I think there were lots of positives to come out of that game,” said OPSB Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick. “Our scrum was really quite dominant, and I think that’s become a staple of ours; a solid platform to play off. We had possession and opportunity, but I think what let us down was our individual accuracy. There were just too many individual errors that put us under undue pressure.”
OPSB will have a full squad from which to select, with Mike Palefau back from playing with the USA 7s team. Fitzpatrick did not confirm that Palefau would start, but he has a wealth of talent in the backline – all they need to do is catch the ball.
Glendale is coming off a touch win over Kansas City in DI action. It was a weekend where they had to use their depth and get the job done in both DI and DII.
“We want to win those games, but we’ve been gearing up for Old Puget Sound for a couple of weeks now,” said hooker and captain Zach Fenoglio. “We know they have a big front row and a really strong back row, too. But we’ve got a good pack and we’ve been setting a good platform. We look forward to the challenge.”
Like OPSB, Glendale will have their best pool of players from which to select. Fenoglio centers a solid front row, and Casey Rock anchors the locks. Nic Johnson should be No. 8. The recent Eagle has been a huge influence as much as a mentor on the field and the practice pitch. Shaun Davies has been an important addition at scrumhalf.
“Shaunie D has a great pass and can bring so much leadership and has so many dimensions to his game other than his kicking,” said Fenoglio, who gives a nod to the former BYU scrumhalf’s goalkicking.
With Davies slotting goals, Ata Malifa can worry about running a backline that features Chad London, and Dustin Croy.
For OPSB, Emosi Vucago at scrumhalf and Fili Botitu at wing have been the prime strike runners, but Isi Daveta and Miles Craigwell, to name just two, are dangerous, too.
This should be a thrilling matchup at Infinity Park.
“We’re excited to be at the stadium,” said OPSB’s Fitzpatrick. “I’ve never been there but I’ve heard about it, and to play in a rugby stadium in an area devoted to rugby is pretty awesome.”
The match kicks off at 6pm local time Saturday in Colorado.