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It took Ohio all 80 minutes to manage a win against Denver, but the victory was not enough to win the first PRO Rugby title. Ohio scored a converted try in the final play to make the final score 32-25. The crowd in Obetz celebrated the final score which gave Ohio the win, though those heroics were not enough for them to end at the top of the table.
Denver headed into the match four points up on the table. Ohio received five points for the win and four try bonus point. However, Denver received two bonus points: one for their four tries, and one for losing for by seven points or fewer. Denver wins the first title.
The first half saw some excellent defense from Denver which forced more Ohio mistakes than has been typical for the Aviators. Ohio had several promising moments, but only managed one try in the half.
Ohio won a penalty from the first scrum of the match, but Denver ended up having the better day scrummaging.
Surprisingly, Denver struggled with lineouts early, failing to win four of their own lineouts in the first half.
From the lineout which followed the first scrum penalty, Ohio won another penalty and decided to scrum. Number Eight Riekert Hattingh took the ball from the base, but the scrum was moving backward. Eventually, the Denver defense won a penalty at the breakdown, and Denver earned a brief respite.
However, they lost the lineout, and Ohio was back on attack. A good tackle on Zac Mizell created a knock on. The Denver scrum was solid, but another scrum followed soon after, this time with an Ohio feed.
The first try came in minute 14 when Jamie Mackintosh burrowed over from close range. A good lineout and maul from Ohio put them in that good position.
A few minutes later, Ohio collapsed a Denver maul inside their 22, and Ryan McTiernan was given a yellow card. From that penalty, Denver chose to scrum. From a good platform, the ball went wide. Chad London got through a Zac Mizell tackle and Roland Suniula could not make the tackled before London went over and pulled Denver even, 5-5.
Ohio regained the lead about five minutes later when Shaun Davies kicked a penalty following another yellow card, this one to Timana Tahu.
Ohio scored first in the second half when Davies kicked a penalty from 20 meters out.
Ohio scored again through a lineout maul. Denver collapsed the maul as it was marching toward the try line, and Ohio was awarded a penalty try. After the conversion, it was 18-8 with 30 minutes to play.
However, Ohio made a mess of the subsequent restart, giving Denver a five meter scrum. Dustin Croy scored a relatively simple first phase try from the scrum to make it 18-13.
Soon after, Jamie Mackintosh was shown a yellow card for slowing the ball at the breakdown. That penalty allowed Denver to get back into the Ohio 22. That visit ended with a try for Zach Fenoglio under the posts. The conversion by Will Magie gave Denver the lead for the first time in the match. The score was 20-18 with 15 minutes to play.
Ohio continued to make things difficult for themselves. From a deep kick, Allan Hanson threw a difficult pass to Spike Davis. Davis then tried to pass the ball before he was tackled into touch. That pass was collected by Denver, and Hanco Germishuys scored the fourth try for Denver.
Denver was up seven with just over 10 to play.
Moments later, Hansen earned a yellow card for a late hit. As Denver was threatening the Ohio try line again, Davis intercepted a pass and looked like he might be away. Chad London was able to catch and tackle him into touch.
The next few minutes saw a bit of desperation from Ohio as the game seemed to be slipping away from them. In the hectic play, Denver committed several penalties. Eventually, the Aviators crossed from a lineout maul with Dylan Fawsitt scoring the try. Robbie Shaw, who replaced Shaun Davies, hit a difficult conversion to pull Ohio level, 25-25.
Following the restart, Ohio won a penalty from a scrum and there was just enough time for the lineout. Ohio launched an impressive series of phases following the lineout. It looked like Denver would hold firm until a good pass from Peter Malcolm set up a try for Hattingh.
Shaw made another tough conversion to end the match 32-25.
In the end, the team with the most wins won the first title, which seems fair enough. The match was a good showcase for the league.
Ohio: Mackintosh, Pen Try, Fawsitt, Hattingh
Denver: London, Croy, Feonglio, Germishuys
Ohio: Davies, Shaw(2)
Ohio: Jamie Mackintosh, Dylan Fawsitt, Demecus Beach, Ryan McTiernan, Kyle Baillie, Filippo Ferrarini, Sebastian Kalm, Riekert Hattingh, Shaun Davies, Taylor Howden, Alex Elkins, Dom Waldouck, Roland Suniula, Spike Davis, Zac Mizell
Reserves: Peter Malcolm, Pierce Dargan, Angus MacLellan, Robbie Shaw, Chad Joseph, Derrek Van Klein, Allan Hanson, Ahmad Harajly
Denver: Luke White, Zach Fenoglio, Chris Baumann, Logan Collins, Casey Rock, Hanco Germishuys, Peter Dahl, Pedrie Wannenberg, Mose Timoteo, Will Magie, Dustin Croy, Timana Tahu, Chad London, Mike Garrity, Max de Achaval
Reserves: Soane Leger, Jake Turnbull, Nick Wallace, Christian Wiessing, Zac Pauga, Bobby Impson, Kyle Hitt, Martin Knoetze