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After the penultimate week of PRP play, four teams have a chance to advance to the Cup Final. Glendale (8-3) bested local rival Denver (5-6) 40-36 and will control its own destiny. Belmont Shore (7-3-1) edged a scrappy Olympic Club (1-10) 31-29 and SFGG (7-2-2) thumped Santa Monica (2-9-1) 76-7 to avenge a loss to OMBAC(7-4).
Glendale vs Denver
Battling injuries and a number of players out due to international commitments, Glendale started yesterdays match with nearly half of its starters missing. Nonetheless, the depth of the team and the emotion of the rivalry was enough to secure a victory.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game. It was going to be a close game,” said Glendale coach Andre Snyman. “It makes a big difference if you have to rely on the depth of your club. You are looking at your reserve players to step up and be a starter, which they did. I am very proud of them and it shows we have a healthy depth in the club.”
The teams traded penalties and tries in the first half with the only difference being a conversion from the boot of Daniel Fleming. At 10-8 William Gillingham earned his second try of the afternoon to extend the Raptor lead to 17-8. Logan Collins responded for the Barbarians, however, cutting the lead to 17-15. Fleming added a try for Glendale to make the game 24-15 going into the break.
Glendale was the first to score in the second half but Denver kept striking back. Kevon Williams, who scored one try and created another, darted through and found Justin Pauga for the score. Sandwiching two Glendale penalties, Brendan Shea earned a score before Williams dotted down. Denver cut the lead to one point but a late penalty sealed the victory for Glendale.
Belmont Shore vs Olympic Club
Belmont Shore got off to a rocky start against the last place side, giving up two tries in the early minutes. Jack Tracy and Richard Deadman, notched two tries for Belmont, however, cutting the lead to two points.
“In the start of the game of the game Olympic club were attacking the breakdown ferociously,” said Belmont Shore coach Ray Egan. “We were in a lot of trouble early.”
OC stymied the Belmont momentum with an intercept on its own 5-meter line that it took the distance for a score before halftime. OC scored the first try of the second half to take a 26-12 lead but a quick tap from Mike Teo and another score from Brice Schilling evened the score at 26 apiece.
“We tried to tighten it a little bit in the second half. I think we controlled the game well,” added Egan.
Olympic Club retook the lead for the third time with a penalty but Sinapati Uiagalelei barged over for a 31-29 lead. Belmont Shore held on for the final 15 minutes to earn the victory.
“We made a lot of good decisions in the last 5-10 minutes to close out the game,” Egan concluded. “That was the most encouraging part of it for us.”
SFGG vs Santa Monica
Gate moved back into second place in the league with a commanding 76-7 victory over Santa Monica. The Dolphins have struggled in the second half of the season, and with a determined SFGG side, they fell mightily. Coming off a loss to OMBAC, SFGG surged out of the gate, taking a 24-0 lead by the 26 minute mark.
Pila Huihui and Mile Pulu finished off the half with their second try of the game, respectively, to lead 38-0. Jack Rowntree and Volney Rouse both dotted down twice in the second half and if not for a try in the 78th minute SFGG would have blanked the Dolphins.
With one game remaining Glendale, SFGG, OMBAC and Belmont Shore all have a mathematical chance to advance to the playoff. Glendale controls its own destiny and will qualify with a win, tie or bonus point loss to Olympic Club.
The second spot is much more up for grabs, but SFGG will advance with a win over Belmont Shore. SFGG currently sits with 41 points in the standings and could still advance with a bonus point loss to Belmont. Both Belmont Shore and OMBAC sit at 37 points in the standings and will need to win and earn a bonus point to have a chance of advancing. Should both teams win and SFGG earn a bonus point in the loss, it will come down to a tiebreaker between the three clubs.
There is a scenario where all four teams can finish with 42 points and a tiebreaker would determine who advances. That however, would require a Glendale loss to Olympic Club with the Raptors falling short of a bonus point.
With each game having a significant impact on the playoffs, it should be quite an exciting finish. “I think it is very exciting, which is great for the league,” said Egan. “It is a great way to finish and healthy for the league. It shows that on any given day anyone can beat anybody.”