Ohio sets PRO points-scoring record, Denver fends off Sacramento

LAFAYETTE, Colo. - PRO Rugby's top two teams, Denver and Ohio, further cemented their places atop the standings table with June 26 victories in front of home fans.

The Aviators, who had averaged 52 points in their previous three matches in Obetz, Ohio, scored a PRO record 71 points in ending San Francisco's two-match winning streak.

The Rush took its lone lead of the afternoon on a Volney Rouse penalty kick just two minutes into the match. Soon after, Ohio began to assert its dominance. A switch move to Roland Suniula put the Aviators on the front foot before the ball was quickly recycled wide to Spike Davis for the try.

A couple minutes later, Davis' bash brother on the opposite wing, Alex Elkins, scored his own try. Shaun Davies' successful conversion put the home team ahead, 12-5.

Rouse would make it a one-possession game with his second penalty, but Ohio owned the remainder of the half. First, lock Pierce Dargan went over for a try, and was followed by Sebastian Kalm to put Ohio up, 24-6, at halftime.

The Aviators' display of continuity only grew in the second frame, scoring six more tries, including seconds by Davis and Kalm, before San Francisco could add to its six points. A penalty try and a long, streaking score by reserve winger Jack O'Hara proved the Rush would not bow out without fight back. However, the damage had already been done, and Ohio treated its fans to a 71-20 win.

In Denver, the Stampede won its first game at its new home of CIBER Field after dropping its first game at the University of Denver last week against Ohio. The 19-point victory came at Sacramento's expense, which was playing its first match since a loss to San Diego over Memorial Day Weekend.

Neither side could take an upper hand in the match's early goings. In fact, both teams were happy to use the skilled foot of their fly halves, Harry Bennett for the Express and the Stampede's Will Magie, to ping pong the ball deep into the other's end.

Magie and Sacramento's Mirco Bergamasco traded penalties in the match's first 25 minutes before Denver reclaimed the lead with the match's first try. The Stampede won a lineout near midfield, and Zac Pauga exploded through the line before handing Pedrie Wanneburg a behind-the-back offload. The former Springbok brought the ball near the goal line, where the Express committed a penalty. From there, it was lock Lynton Mare who punched it in and produced an 8-5 lead.

Sacramento did not allow Denver to build off of its initial score, though. Eagle loose forward Kyle Sumsion, who moved from flanker to eight man when teammate Langilangi Haupeakui was called up to make his debut for the Eagles in their 25-0 win over Russia, picked the ball from the back of the scrum and powered his way over the try line.

Trailing by two points, Denver owned the opening phases of the second half and used the pressure to put Wanneburg through for what would be the captain's first of two tries.

In order to extend their lead, the Stampede turned to Magie, who drilled three more penalties, eventually ramping Denver's lead to 22-10. Playing well beyond the 80-minute mark, Denver was eager to score one last try for its home fans and did so when Wanneburg again reached over the line.

The Stampede's win leaves Denver just one point shy of Ohio's 32, but the Aviators have played nine matches as opposed to the Stampede's eight. Sacramento falls to 1-6, but showed improvement from its last outing.

Two more PRO matches are on tap July 3. San Francisco hosts a northern California derby when Sacramento visits, and San Diego hopes to hand Ohio its first loss at Memorial Park.