Key match-ups in AZ this weekend

PACIFIC SOUTH/ARIZONA MEN’S DIVISION II: RED MOUNTAIN WARTHOGS VS. TEMPE OLD DEVILS:
In terms of club rivalries, this is one of the biggest. These two teams have a history, and after not having played each other last year the rivalry is reborn. Both teams are going to be eager to walk away with a win to kick-start their season, but each team knows that it will be easier said than done.

For Red Mountain they know that this rivalry only makes them better, “It’s just a strong competition. We’re constantly driving each other to produce better rugby than the other team” explained Red Mountain’s Brandon Marcum.

Junior Fa’aso’o of Tempe had a similar sentiment towards the game: “Rivalry games are always difficult,” he said diplomatically, “but we feel comfortable with our preparations, and we aren’t doing anything different to our usual preparations.”

Usual preparations for Tempe are about their stamina. Fa’aso’o revealed, “We will rely on our conditioning… we usually have a tussle in the first forty minutes, but then kick it up a gear in the second.”

Tempe’s ability to pull away in the second half has not gone unnoticed by the Red Mountain contingent, as Marcum noted that they will need to “take away their big plays.” The Warthogs will be attempting to do this through stringent defense. “We will rely on defensive pressure. We will put a lot of pressure on them in their own 40 to make them kick, so they can’t get continual phases.”

Tempe has had the edge in the last couple of meetings, winning 46-19 and 27-24 in 2016 and 2015, respectively. However, it must be noted that in 2016 Tempe went on to win the D2 National Championship, so the large win was a sign of the pedigree of rugby they were playing that year.

Red Mountain, no stranger to the national stage either, will be looking to rekindle some of their 2008 magic which helped them land a D2 National Title. If the first game of their season is anything to go by they are on the right track, as they disposed of the Northern Arizona Landsharks, 43-10.

Regardless of the outcome, this weekend there is guaranteed to be some champagne rugby on display.

ARIZONA MEN’S DIVISION III: PHOENIX RUGBY VS. TUCSON MAGPIES:
It’s a battle of the birds this weekend as Phoenix takes on the Magpies. Last year the teams finished first and second respectively, and early signs indicate they could finish in similar fashion again this year. Phoenix is coming off a convincing win last weekend against Old Pueblo, winning 45-27. The Magpies will have to be at their best if they are to be any chance of improving on last year’s finish.

SOCAL WOMEN’S DIVISION I: TEMPE NINJAS VS. SANTA MONICA DOLPHINS:
In another match that pins last year’s winners and runner’s up against each other, the Ninjas will be looking to sneak past the Dolphins to get their season off to a winning start. There will be added tension in this matchup, as despite finishing first in their division, the Dolphins were pipped at the post last year. The Ninjas beat them in the SoCal championship to take their place at the National Quarter Finals. The Dolphins will surely be fired up and looking for revenge.

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