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Rugby Super League Playoffs: Denver Barbarians vs. NYAC

Dumont WalkerSenior Analyst IMay 14, 2009

In what will undoubtedly be the match of the first weekends finals defending champions NYAC (Blue #2) host The Denver Barbarians (Red #3) at 2pm EST.

Both teams are packed full of quality, disciplined players and both sides are extremely well coached.

There is little to choose between the sides statistically either with Denver having a points differential of 88 and NYAC of 101.

NYAC will enjoy homeground advantage and that is what should carry them home on the back of their desire to retain their title against a very tough opponent in the Denver Barbo's.

Heavensgame spoke to Bruce McLane coach of the NYAC team about the match.

"It will certainly be a tough game, not only are Denver coached by an Eagle legend and current Eagle coach Dave Hodges, they have 6 players in the pack with Eagle experience in Moreno, Mangan, Vander Geisen, Johnson, Stencel, and Quinn. They also have a professionally experienced Welsh prop in Dai Maddocks who Hodges knew from his days with the Scarletts, and this group is led by long time super league hooker Tim Russo. All of this will be a handful for the younger, smaller NYAC pack."

It is not all doom and gloom for the hosts as McLane adds "NYAC can counter with experienced players such as prop Troy Bartley and hooker Matt Wyatt as well as a contingent of All Americans and youth in Lou Stanfill, Andrew Lindsey, Frank Sharpe, Andy King, James Denise and the powerful Alex Willen. We are hoping that the improvement and growth they have shown through the season continues."

Bruce then gave his thoughts on both backlines "The Denver backline has performed better with the addition of Maximo DeAchaval at FH in the midseason where they posted some big wins and a 1 point loss to perennial finalists Belmont Shore. NYAC must counter with a real team effort in the backs from Mike Petri, Dan Power, Captain Jez Atkin and Tim Ryland."

How will the match turnout?

Bruce can see an argument for both sides prevailing ""Denver has played a playoff game at the NYAC, so they know the lay of the land and know what to expect. It is always safe to back the home side, but in this case it could be different as the Denver Barbarians played in the more difficult Western Conference. NYAC is hoping to be able to execute their gameplan and play smart rugby. If we are able to do that, we should be OK. If Denver overpowers us in the pack and uses their potent attacking flair of DeAchaval and Yavala, they could certainly avenge last year's semi final loss."

"All in all, it will be a quality game of rugby, we are prepared, we are ready, our team is motivated to play in front of our fans and we are excited for the challenge. Not to mention that Dave Hodges is an Eagle coach, so players will want to show they can play. Bill LeClerc, the Eagle scrum coach will also be in attendance so it is a good opportunity for both teams to get players onto Eddie O'Sullivan's radar screen."

Heavensgame also caught up with Dumont Walker – from the leading sports opinion site http://www.walker-sports.net/ to glean his insight on the game

Walker's thoughts on NYAC "This should prove to be the most intriguing match of the weekend. NYAC are the defending RSL Champions and despite an up an down season, they will not relinquish their crown lightly."

Walker's thoughts on Denver "Devner has often knocked at the door for RSL success, but playing in the Red Conference can prove to be difficult for any team."

Walker's prediction "The travel will be too much for the Barbarians to overcome, and once again Denver will fall short in the first round of the post season."

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