The Pacific Rugby Premiership finish their inaugural season tomorrow, with San Francisco Golden Gate taking on the Glendale Raptors at Infinity Park in Glendale. Set to kick off at 3pm MST, the match will be streamed live on the RugbyTown USA website. As well as being the first-ever championship game for the PRP, this is also the first time a TMO will be used for in American club rugby in an official capacity.
SFGG came into the season as definite favorites to win the competition overall, but it wasn’t an easy road for the storied club. They got off to a good start but then ran into a rough patch in the middle of the season with two straight losses and some close calls that must have rattled them. The regular season was finished with a 9-3 W/L; good enough for 2nd place and a trip to the finals. The squad boasts a star-studded lineup, with a decent amount of international-level experience from players such as Mile Pulu, Tai Enosa, Volney Rouse, and Mose Timoteo. However, even with all of that talent in the backs, the second row led the majority of the try scoring.
“After a grueling 12 match regular season against the best teams on the west coast, we are very excited and proud to be participating in the inaugural PRP championship match,” said SFGG Head Coach Alex Houser. “We have come a long way as a team since the beginning of the season, not only in our play on the field but as a family off the pitch as well. We have had some ups and downs this season, but those have only served to bring us closer as a team and galvanize the resolve of the players and strengthen their determination in achieving the goals they set for themselves before the competition began.”
The Glendale Raptors however came into the season under the radar, with many expecting an underwhelming midtable finish for the Colorado side. The doubters were quickly proved wrong in the opening to the season, with two strong wins over the Olympic Club and Belmont Shore. Their third game has a close enough to frustrating 31-26 loss to SFGG, but come the end of the season, it would be the only bump in their road. They ran the rest of the table for the rest of the season, finishing with an 11-1 record in their first PRP campaign.
The Raptors can also boast some of the top scorers in the PRP. Mike Graham saw a 2nd place finish in the overall standing with 139, while the team had three fifths of the top try-scorers in Chad London (12), Preston Bryant (11), and Dustin Croy (8), London taking the highest number of tries scored in the tournament.
This should be a game to remember. The heavily weighted score the last time these sides met shouldn’t dissuade you; their first match should be more indicative of how this game should end. SFGG’s defense will be key, as their victory will rely on denying the offensive power of the Raptors. If the Raptors can get a foothold, they have proven other and other again that they can keep scoring points if given the opportunity, so keeping the game tight will be vital for SFGG. Glendale has also been able to maintain their offence minded playing style well into the second half of games, so SFGG will need to sprint out of the blocks and try to take their lead into the break. When you two teams of this caliber clash, it’s always great to watch, and this is sure to be a fitting end to the season.