Sacramento go top in USA PRO league

Date published: April 18 2016

The USA PRO league kicked off on Sunday  – a first for America – with Denver and Sacramento getting their first wins in the new rugby competition.

Denver 16-13 Ohio
Infinity Park, Denver

Denver beat Ohio 16-13 in the first ever USA PRO Rugby match on Sunday at Infinity Park. 

It was the home side that bagged the first ever win in the new USA competition, courtesy of an injury time penalty conversion from full-back Will Magie.

Denver scored two tries to Ohio's one, with the latter's outside centre Roland Suniula scoring first. The home side was captained by South African loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg. 

Suniula's try was converted by Shaun Davies which allowed Ohio to take an early 7-0 lead. 

Denver scrum-half Niku Kruger and Davies exchanged penalties late in the first 40, which allowed Ohio to take a fairly comfortable 13-3 lead as the teams headed into the changing rooms.

Davies saw yellow for a professional foul which allowed Denver to capitilise on the extra man by crossing twice to set up a thrilling finish.

Winger Michael Al-Jiboori and replacement hooker Nick Wallace each crossed the whitewash as Denver drew level with the score on 13-13.

Magie's 82nd minute penalty attempt was converted from up against the touchline to hand the visitors an emphatic 16-13 victory.

For Denver:
Tries: Al-Jiboori, Wallace
Pens: Kruger, Magie

For Ohio:
Try: Suniula
Con: Davies
Pens: Davies 2
Yellow Card: Davies

Denver: 15 Will Magie, 14 Martin Knoetze, 13 Chad London, 12 Mike Garrity, 11 Michael Al-Jiboori, 10 Ata Malifa, 9 Niku Kruger, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg (c), 7 Peter Dahl, 6 Logan Collins, 5 Christian Wiessing, 4 Brodie Orth, 3 Ben Tarr, 2 Zach Fenoglio, 1 Luke White
Replacements: 16 Nick Wallace, 17 Jake Turnbull, 18 Soane Leger, 19 Gannon Moore, 20 Zac Pauga, 21 Bobby Impson, 22 Max de Achaval, 23 Dustin Croy

Ohio: 15 Ahmad Harajly, 14 Spike Davis, 13 Roland Suniula, 12 Taylor Howden, 11 Alex Elkins, 10 JP Eloff, 9 Shaun Davies, 8 Sebastián Kalm, 7 Matt Hughston, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Ryan McTiernan, 4 Pierce Dargan, 3 Angus MacLellan, 2 Peter Malcolm, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c)
Replacements: 16 Cameron Falcon, 17 Demecus Beach, 18 Anthony Parry, 19 Dominic Pezzutti, 20 Chad Joseph, 21 Chris Schade, 22 Robbie Shaw, 23 Mason Baum

Referee: Derek Summers

Sacramento 37-25 San Francisco
Bonney Field, Sacramento

Sacramento put visiting San Francisco to the sword 37-25 in the first ever televised PRO Rugby match at Bonney Field on Sunday. The home side scored eight tries, including a penalty try, to three.

Former Italian utility back Marco Bergamasco opened the scoring for Sacramento with a penalty in the opening five minutes. 

The visitors responded almost immediately with Eagles flanker Alec Gletzer crossing the whitewash for the first try of the match, his try was converted by Volney Rouse. 

Rouse was successful from the tee a few minutes later extending San Francisco's lead to 10-3.

Sacramento dominated the ruck and were rewarded for their discipline at the set piece when they scored in quick succession, scrum-half Jope Motokana and full-back Garrett Brewer each dotting down. The home side held onto a slender 13-10 lead despite Rouse missing both conversion attempts. 

Sacramento's over exertion at the breakdown took it's toll as gaps soon appeared and it didn't take San Francisco too long to capitalise on this as Rouse evaded the cover defence to run in for a five pointer, he converted his own try to regain the lead for the visitors 17-13 as they headed into the break.

Sleek handling and passing from San Francisco allowed Nick Blevins to put number eight Siupeli Sakalia into space for the first try of the second half. This, however, soon changed as the visitors discipline and professionalism let them down after they conceded numerous penalties with lock Nick Grass and hooker Tom Coolican both seeing yellow in the 60th and 62nd minute respectively.

The two man advantage resulted in Sacramento being awarded a penalty try in the 64th minute after the visitors continuously collapsed the maul. Martini Talapusi added a penalty conversion for San Francisco.

Tries from Olive Kilifi, replacement loose forward Ryan Koewler and a drop goal from Harry Bennett put the game out of reach for captain Patrick Latu and his men, both tries converted by Bergamasco as the final score read 37-25 with the home side claiming the spoils.

For Sacramento:
Tries: Penalty Try, Motokana, Brewer, Kilifi, Koewler
Cons: Bergamasco 3
Pen: Bergamasco
Drop Goal: Bennett

For San Francisco:
Tries: Gletzer, Rouse, Sakalia
Cons: Rouse 2
Pens: Rouse, Talapusi
Yellow Cards: Grass, Coolican