PRO San Francisco tests unbeaten Denver; Ohio thrashes Sacramento

LAFAYETTE, Colo. - Another week of PRO Rugby, another win for table-topping Denver following a barn-burner of a match, 41-37, against still-winless San Francisco Friday, May 20. Further east, Ohio rebounded from its second loss of the season to post eight tries in a 50-17 win against a hapless Sacramento side in Obetz Sunday.

San Diego received a bye in PRO's Week 6, and saw its ranking in the standings decline to third with Ohio's third win of the competition. Ohio's eight-try defeat of Sacramento gave the team its fifth bonus point in as many games for a total of 17 standings points - two more than the men of San Diego have collected in four games.

A fairly breezy Friday night in Glendale, Colo., benefitted both teams in the kicking game, but also caused some havoc in the air. Despite conceding a try to Zach Fenoglio, just one of Denver's Eagle representatives, five minutes into the match, San Francisco capitalized on a yellow card to Springbok Pedrie Wannenberg to take a 14-10 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.

Playing for territory only did so much, and Denver utilized its pacey backs and hefty, experienced forwards late in the first frame to restore its lead. Scrum half Mose Timoteo provided quick ball from the breakdown in a 33rd-minute attack inside San Francisco's 22, and prop Luke White dummied a pass to capped Eagle Chad London on the wing before bruising past three defenders into the in-goal area.

Volney Rouse put a penalty goal through the uprights a few minutes after Denver's second try, and nearly set up a five-point attack with a nifty break from inside his own half a minute later. All Black Sevens' Orene Ai'i followed his fly half into Denver's side of the field to receive Rouse's offload, but San Francisco failed to lock down the breakdown. The ball rolled out for London to corral, and the center was not challenged on his 60-meter run to the try zone. The dot-down under the posts was converted by Will Magie for a 24-20 Denver lead at the break.

Denver ticked the scoreboard first in the second half as lock Casey Rock went over the line from a five-meter lineout. Eagle David Tameilau struck right back for San Francisco, however, after London had broken through for a run to midfield from the visitor's overthrown lineout. Mike Garrity was isolated in contact, allowing Tameilau to go through the gate and grab the ball for possession before beating Ben Tarr in a race to the in-goal area.

San Francisco would only get as close as four points away from Denver's tally through the remainder of the match, with young Christian Wiessing adding a try during Ai'i's second-half sinning and London going over again with Bill Fukofuka also in the bin for a 41-30 lead in the 60th minute. Jacob Finau put San Francisco back in the game with a 63rd-minute try, but it ended up being the final scoring play of the 41-37 match.

The bye week seemed to do San Francisco some good following four consecutive weekends of all-out rugby, and Paul Keeler's team will have the advantage of being the home team Sunday, May 29, as it hosts Ohio. Denver will not be back in action until June 5 when it visits San Diego, where the PRO leader has already come away with a victory.

A sunny day in Ohio offered Sacramento and the home side the perfect conditions to play running rugby, but a rather stop-start game ensued, favoring Ohio's set pieces. Italian center Mirco Bergamasco put Sacramento ahead with a penalty kick in the second minute, but the first half was all Ohio. A Sacramento put-in outside its 22 in the 10th minute was turned over by Shaun Davies in the tackle area behind the scrum, and Matt Hughston had nothing but space in front of him to score beneath the posts.

A lineout at the same spot on the field as the previous scrum went straight into the arms of Ohio's Italian, Filippo Ferrarini, for a breakaway try two minutes later. In the 18th minute, a strong run from Ferrarini following another Ohio lineout began a quick-strike attack that saw hooker Dylan Fawsitt put on the jets to burst through the defense from 20 meters.

Already leading, 21-3, halfway through the first half, Ohio piled on the pressure with tries from joint-top try-scorer Sebastian Kalm and All Black Jamie Mackintosh to end the half with a 33-3 advantage.

Sacramento Head Coach Luke Gross said good teams find ways to win, but his side could only get over the try line twice in the second frame. USA Rugby High School and AIG Men's Junior All-American graduate Nemia Qoro ran a smart line 10 meters from the try zone in the 47th minute for a 33-10 score line, but tries from Hughston and Aaron 'Spike' Davis within five minutes killed any momentum Sacramento had gained.

Capped Eagle Kyle Sumsion cut the deficit to 45-17 with a little muscle and grit to get past Kalm along the try line, but Ohio had the final say with Davis' second try three minutes from time for the 50-17 final.

Ohio moves into second in the PRO standings with three wins, two losses, and five bonus points, and will have a chance to improve that ranking Sunday, May 29, when it visits San Francisco's Boxer Stadium. Follow PRO Rugby North America on Facebook and Twitter for more updates from the first professional rugby union competition in the United States.