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The inaugural Pacific Rugby Premiership final will be contested Saturday
between the Glendale Raptors and San Francisco Golden Gate at Glendale's
Infinity Park in suburban Denver, Colo. at 3pm MST.
The game will be available live online through Glendale's webcast, and Fox Soccer Plus will carry the contest May 24th at 12pm MST and May 25th at 5pm MST.
This will be the third meeting between Glendale and
SFGG this spring, with both clubs winning their home stretches of the
regular season series. SFGG beat Glendale 31-26 in San Francisco in
February, and the Raptors beat SFGG 59-17 two weeks ago at Infinity
The most recent meting was a bit of a farce, as SFGG didn't travel anywhere near full strength. Both Gate and Glendale had already clinched spots in the final, and SFGG elected to give most of their starters an off weekend back home. The Raptors, on the other hand, selected their top side and easily dispatched of the weaker visitors.
"With the new season, and 12 regular season games and all the travel, it's new for the guys," said SFGG coach Alex Houser. "We just wanted to give them a little bit of a break and also give some guys who'd be bench players some good minutes and give some guys who were on the fringes a chance to put their hands up for the final."
The February meeting might be more indicative of what to expect Saturday, though both teams have changed considerably since then. The loss was Glendale's only of the season, but the Raptors were without captain Zach Fenoglio and the PRP's leading try scorer Chad London, as they were away on National Team duty. They'll be on the field Saturday.
"I just think they caught us off guard when we played them the first time, and I think they were just a little bit more physical than us, so, yeah, we had a few things counting against us, but no excuses," said Glendale head coach Andre Snyman.
"On the day they were better than us. They beat us, but we walked away with two points, we scored four tries, and we came back strong at the end, so yeah I'm looking forward to this weekend."
While both teams feature All Americans and Eagle prospects in their forward packs, most of the firepower will be in the respective back lines Saturday. SFGG has Eagles Mose Timoteo, Tai Enosa and Mile Pulu, and Glendale boasts three of the league's top try scorers in outside center Chad London (1st), wing Preston Bryant (2nd) and fullback Dustin Croy (5th).
"Obviously, they've got some good ball carriers in their backline. So do we. I'm trying to keep a good balance between ball carriers and some guys that can give the ball some air with speed, where I think they might be pretty much straight forward, very dynamic up and down the pitch ball carriers," said Snyman.
"They've got the threat of Tai Enosa at fullback. He's very elusive on the counter attack, so we've got to try and shut him down and not give him space to run."
Houser, like Snyman, respects the opposing back line, but is confident in his own.
"The one thing that really stood out to me is just how unselfish they play with each other. They got a break, and they're always looking left and right and looking to offload and looking to keep the ball alive. They support really well," said Houser of the Raptors.
"Chad London's been pretty impressive, and he's a pretty dynamic player, but we certainly have some guys who are capable of making the big play and getting momentum. You can't really account for those sort of things. We just try to play our system and set those guys up that can make those types of plays and get them into some space or get them some one-on-one match-ups."
Between them, Glendale and SFGG account for six Elite Cup, Super League or DI national championships in the last five years. After Saturday, it'll be seven in the last six.