Finally the 2012 Rugby Super League playoffs are here, and we have New York Athletic Club against Life University Running Eagles in one semifinal, while Old Puget Sound Beach face off against San Francisco Golden Gate in the later game. At stake is the right to host the Championship game June 2nd. These matchups have occurred twice already this season, so there will be lots of familiarity between the teams.
Life University at NYAC
Travers Island, NY, 1pm Eastern
NYAC cruised through the regular season with a perfect record, defeating Life twice along the way. The winning score was similar each time (40-23 and 39-21), as NYAC used a strong forwards performance to set up Mike Petri to deliver to a speedy back line. That back line has scored early and often throughout the season, seamlessly incorporating some players playing out of their usual position. The season points total for the team might have been higher if not for some ill-timed handling problems, one of the few blemishes on the season, and no doubt NYAC is working on minimizing such errors.
Life University reached the playoffs again this year; the only losses on their record the two defeats by NYAC. Life’s squad features a few less experienced players who have been contributing significant time this year, and they are blossoming as they rapidly gain experience.
Benny Mateialona has consistently had the outhalf’s shirt for Life, and Life can call on Peter Burt or Tui Osborne to fill the role if they decide to move things around. Temperatures in the 80’s are expected in New York on Saturday, so fitness and a deep bench might be important.
San Francisco Golden Gate at Old Puget Sound Beach
Magnuson Park, Seattle , WA, 4pm Pacific
Old Puget Sound Beach owns the season’s two meetings between the two teams, winning 60-36 and 19-12. The first meeting was relatively close until SFGG incurred a red card and had to play 50 minutes with 14 players. OPSB happily took full advantage, scoring a blizzard of tries in handing SFGG a big defeat. Last week’s matchup was a much closer and lower scoring affair and only one score separated the two at the finish.
Both sides can throw the ball around and score from anywhere. Emosi Vucago and Filimoni Botitu have provided highlight reel scores for OPSB throughout the season in a back line that has flourished from the platform provided by the forwards. SFGG will call on big efforts from the engine room of John Thomas and Nick Civetta, freeing up the likes of Volney Rouse and recently returned Mile Pulu to do what they do best. SFGG has the experience and knows what it takes to make it to the Championship game, and they would be delighted to turn the season’s tide and host another title game back in San Francisco. The temperature is expected to be in the 70’s, with full sun, no rain, no wind. Can the teams adapt to such unusual weather conditions?
Stereotypes aside, should be perfect conditions for the spectators in what should be a great contest.
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The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
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