Sunday, October 16, 2016

MD-3: Denver Highlanders v Glendale Raptors 3

Denver Highlanders v Glendale Raptors 3

Cagey veteran, Josh Slater (ball-in-hand), locked down the Highlanders back row, and was in the thick of the action all day long

Gross' sure spread
Highlanders were consummate in defense of their homeground, The Jake, on the RugbyDay. With New Zealand native and points-producer Adam Price out due shoulder injury sustained during last week’s win over Queen City Rams, Highlanders maintained their frenetic scoring pace;
Kyle Gross, traded his 15 shirt for Price’s 10, and the versatile three-quarters - who hails from Rangeley - orchestrated a comprehensive, 85-10 win for the league leaders.

Women's Premier League: Glendale Raptors v Berkeley All Blues

Glendale Raptors v Berkeley All Blues
Glendale's halfback combination sparkled

Warm and breezy with temperatures in the low 80s at kickoff of the Blue Conference derby between league-leading Raptors and the All Blues. Glendale looked to remain undefeated and in front of the hot San Diego Surfers, while the Bay Area club sought their initial result of the season.

A quartet of groundings on: a fine closing by fullback Colleen Cribbs; a slick Hannah Stolba-feed to outside center Christen Suda for the 5/8ths cross-and-ground; a second by Suda on a well-sold dummy and 50-meter scoot; and a fiver by tighthead prop, Melissa Polheber - the last converted by 
Stolba earning a 22-0 lead and the bonus-point in the opening quarter.

Berkeley struck back with fast close-order communication along the western touchline made for flyer Serena Liu’s weaving race to goal for the try that brought the scores to 22-5 in the 26th minute.

Glendale were firing on all cylinders, working the pill from breakdown with consistency, then the lightning offload and space for much front-foot luxury. Raptors would see a trio of groundings to close out the half at 41-5 on trys by: spry tighthead, Sarah Chobot; a dot by flyer Denali Graham; and a Stolba inverse feed to oncoming blindside, Carmen Farmer, and the six’ subsequent grounding - with Stolba good on two from three conversions.

All scores for Glendale in the second stanza as Raptors precision of transfer in traffic, continuity of forward momentum, daunting three-quartersline, and the savvy distribution choices by the Raptors pivot had the All Blues on the rear foot for much of that final forty minutes of play. A record of 77-5 to Glendale at time.

                Glendale – Try: Cribbs (2), Suda (2), Chobot, Polheber (2), Stolba, Graham, Farmer,                                               Brennan, Wypych, Shalosky; Con: Stolba (6);
                Berkeley – Try: Liu

Match Officials: Emily Hsieh (Referee); Derek Summers, Victor Bellavia (RAs)

Next up for Glendale, the all-important return engagement with San Diego Surfers in Southern California. Raptors had a famous comeback for two-point victory in September. Winner of the match on Saturday, October 29, will more than likely claim topspot in the division heading to playoffs. 

MD-2: Boulder v Harlequins

Denver Harlequins v Boulder Rugby

Boulder began its league title defense in somewhat unsatisfactory manner with only a single win in their initial four outings, though they’d a draw to go along with two losses; Harlequins, a side loaded with talent - from their staunch and skilled number one, Chris Bailey, out to fiery and explosive Paul Bordenkircher on the wing, were yet in search of their first victory of the season. With temperatures pushing 80 degrees and warming, field magistrate Derek Summers whistled up kickoff and it was on at Cook Park then.

Probing kicks and pick-and-goes well-defended in the early goings by each until loosehead Bailey made a barge into the Boulder line into the 22 and offloaded perfectly to supportive second row, Ben 
Prentner, and that man closed quickly: 7-nil homeboys in the 13th minute after conversion by Quin fullback, Kyle Visagie.

Denver committed offense sufficient to earn a yellow card at ’17, and Boulder worked the one-man advantage well, alternating short darts from by backrow lock, Paul Rohr, lengthy skip-slings to outside backline dangermen, second center Odell Hyman, and flyer, Ralo Wheeler. Boulder were into the host 22 when penalty award enabled flyhalf Colin Johnson to strike cleanly a three-pointed sticksplitter and visitors were on the board, at 7-3, favoring Harlequins at minute 21.

Back at full strength, the home team brought it hard on the Boulder line with Bailey storming into the 22, battering his way to fall beneath a bevy of stoppers one meter from goal. Quins got to the breakdown with intent, but a frantic Boulder defense turned ball over and the travelers were able to clear their lines in the 30th minute.

Boulder regained the lead on a splendid individual effort by Hyman that saw him crash to space and round the defense to ground for an 8-7 scoreline with halftime looming.

Not before the homeside had the final shout of the first forty: Harlequins inside center Isaac Archibeque, on a cutter to goal, made it deep into the Boulder business district before offloading to flying finisher, Hector Cevilla, whose try and Visagie’s additional deuce, made tallies of 14 and 8 for Harlequins after 40.

Better transfer of the pill in close quarters and determination at breakdown made for significant go-forward pressure by the home team; wrong side of the Sir’s penalty count for Boulder and some lazy, loopy passes to no one in particular meant for exasperating endings of promising moves.

Lively opening to the second stanza with each side attempting to establish its pattern, yet the defenses along with damning unforced handling errors, served to maintain the scoreline.

Boulder with the concerted, multi-phase effort into the Quins 22. Swift recycle from scrumhalf Sean Kilfoyle and the defense was spread for replacement openside Eliot Kairys’ clean and rapid, 20-meter straight gallop to goal for the grounding that reversed the lead once more after the plus two by Johnson: 15-14 Boulder at ’56.

Quins were hard and fast into the Boulder 22 in the 64th minute being undone by a mishandle in traffic that reversed possession and enabling the visitors clearance.
Boulder extended their advantage on a try by Bryan Maroney and Johnson’s subsequent completion, and the visitors had a bit of breathing space at the 70th minute, 22-14. Boulder up by two scores just now.

Harlequins made it a one-point margin yet again on a blinder of an effort by openside Jason Burbach that finished a lengthy period of Denver attack inside Boulder’s 10-meter line; after conversion by Visagie: 22-21 with a handful of 60-second segments left.

It was Boulder with the counting response two minutes on when Hyman smashed to space and finished 40 meters powerfully for the bonus point and Johnson’s deuce made a result of 29-21 after Kilfoyle’s kick to touch from the wonscrum and Summers’ last blast.

                Denver Harlequins – Try: Prentner, Cevilla, Burbach; Con: Visagie (3);
                Boulder Rugby - Try: Hyman (2), Kairys, Maroney; Con: Johnson (3); Pen: Johnson
Match Official: Derek Summers

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Women's Premier League: Glendale Raptors v Oregon Sports Union

Glendale Raptors v Oregon Sports Union

Partially overcast, warm and a bit of puffy blow in the air as Women’s Premier League Blue Conference-leading Raptors hosted the Oregon elite XV on the StoveTop at Infinity this Saturday. Both sides looking keen and loose in their respective run-ups and the crowd in the East Terrace and along west touch were to be treated to a fine display of our game this RugbyDay.

Early on Glendale and Oregon worked multiple phases of breakdown-recycle with near-channel runners crashing, but each were subject to handling errors and infractive behavior that reversed possession. Oregon’s flankers, blindside KL Oylear and openside Rachel Johnson showing dangerous into open space, but Raptors cover was sufficient to its task just then.

Raptors pattern of short, stabbing pick-and-goes and center channel industry served them well into the Oregon 22 where penalty award to the home team by referee Lee Bryant enabled inside center Christen Suda to split the sticks for three and it was Glendale 3, OSU 0 in the ninth minute of play.

Penalty count favoring the homeside through 20 minutes as offsides at the breakdown and along the defensive threequartersline became somewhat of an issue for the travelers, which Glendale exploited well.

Oregon were pinged at breakdown and the hoist to touch found Glendale with the lineout toss 10 meters from goal. That set piece won and consolidated, crabbing sideways; Raptors had the scrum advantage, 20 meters from the news. Won and spun through hands to inside center, Christen Suda, who barged across to touch down for her own conversion and 10-nil Glendale after 24 minutes.

Glendale fullback, Justine Wypych, broke to space, then offloaded surely to Andrea Prusinski for the flyer’s line to goal and with Christen’s additional deuce, 17-0 for homegirls in the 28th minute.
The restart was well-collected by Raptors blindside, Joanna Kitlinski, and advanced to near midfield where second row Carmen Farmer took the well-offered handoff and streaked 50 meters to ground a try that brought tallies to 22 and 0 at ’32.

Oregon responded with a string off phases into Glendale territory, banging forward diagonally across the pitch in an impressive movement featuring dashes-and-crashes from the breakdown by OSU's breakaways, Oylear and Johnson, that took action into the Glendale business district, 10 meters from goal, and tighthead prop Adrienne Acosta stormed over for the try converted by fullback Molly Luft, and 22-7 now in the 36th minute, and also the tallies at the half

Glendale opened the second stanza on the big front foot when engine roomee Patsy Ford crossed for another Suda conversion and 29-7 in minute 43.

Oregon backrow lock, Beckett Royce, displayed speed and power in an eight-meter scamper to goal for a grounding that brought scores to 29 and 12 by minute 48.

Second stanza Raptors replacements saw the return (from six months of comprehensive rugby life in New Zealand) of Hannah Stolba to standoff and a classic skip-pass to fast-going Wypych who touched down to bring the scoreline to 34-12 at ’52.

OSU mounted a sustained effort abetted by a penalty and won lineout 15 meters from Glendale’s goal. Once again the Beckett showed great evasive power and pace to cross-and-ground: tallies at 34 and 17 just past the hour mark.

Remaining scores for the home team in a lively, free-flowing (both ways, though no further numbers the visitors) final quarter as Glendale’s #2, Jeanna Beard, touched down for Stolba’s conversion nearing time and wing replacement Colleen Cribbs dotted the final fiver just prior to Bryant’s terminal tweet: 46-17, the result then.

                Glendale Raptors – Try: Suda, Prusinski, Farmer, Ford, Wypych, Beard, Cribbs; Con:                                                         Suda (3), Stolba; Pen: Suda;
                Oregon Sports Union – Try: Acosta, Royce (2); Con: (2)

Match Officials: Lee Bryant (Referee); Marc Nelson, Aaron Yappert (RAs)

Up next weekend for Glendale Raptors will be host duty on Saturday of Berkeley All Blues, 3pm at Infinity, while Oregon Sports Union and San Diego Surfers are on the bye weekend in the USA Rugby Women’s Premier League.

MD-3: Denver Highlanders v Queen City Rams


Highlanders halfback, Zach Dickerson, preparing to provide the pill

Denver Highlanders v Queen City Rams

Warm and Sunny on the RugbyDay at the Jake for the derby between the first-placed ‘Landers and the team what would be. Each XV were looking to claim head of the class in demonstrative fashion. One side did.

A bit of early fractivity well-settled by field magistrate Aaron Yappert and it was high energy, balls-out footie from then on with a Cityboy in the bin at the 6th minute.  Penalty awarded to the home team and flyhalf Adam Price’s subsequent loft to touch had Highlanders into their opponent’s territory with a lineout; that won and spun and after four, powerfully pounded penetrations from breakdown deep into City’s 22, backrow lock Josh Slater broke over goal to touch down the first points of the match. 
Conversion by the home team’s talismanic standoff, Adam Price, and it was 7-nil homeboys in the 9th minute.

Price, the Highlanders numbers guy, made more at the 18th minute: quick service by scrumhalf Zach Dickerson had Price attended by a bevy of defenders just shy of goal, but the robust pivot was able to fight free the stoppers to cross-and-ground, and it was 12-0 homeys after 18 minutes.

Rams got on the board with a penalty goal struck from in front of the sticks, inside the 22 by their outside center, and it was 12-3 after 20 minutes off Yappert’s chronometer.

Queen City’s strategy of deep territory-seeking kicks was becoming undone by both the sparkling counters of Highlanders fullback Kyle Gross and the numbers, speed and purpose that Denver brought to the breakdown.

Price pegged a second penalty goal from just inside the 10-meter line through the posts and it was 15-3 at minute 33.

Mr. Price stretched the advantage with a sticksplitter just before the half and it was lads to lockers for hydration and instruction with the tallies at 18 and 3 at Yappert’s signal.

Both sides were making errors, but the home team’s ability to capitalize on those minor and major misdeeds in a more productive way made the difference in the first forty; quicker, slicker recycling by Dickerson, effective kicking by Price and surety at the offloading by the forwards in the near channels was keeping Rams on their rear leg, the Highlanders, happily hungry.

City earned the initial numbers of the second stanza by penalty conversion of their outside center from 30 meters out on the left post and 18-6 in the 46th minute.

Price sustained injury at ’48 and was forced off the pitch by that damage, and the Highlanders backline dynamic would change with Gross moving to #10, flyer Pinnick Brooks shifting to #15 and Rocco Petramala covering Brooks’ spot. Would the home team falter with its numbers man gone?

Well, initially, yes as Rams fullback returned a punt that hadn’t found touch 50 meters on a shifting weave line along the northside touchline to ground in the corner and City had drawn within a converted goal at 18-11 after 50 minutes of action.

But Highlanders settled into their new alignment, putting lock Nic Rangel and veteran Jeff Westbrook into the Promised Land for their touch downs that - with one converted by engine Sean Welfare (Fort Collins High School and CSU Rams RFCs and scion of the great Welfare rugby clan) – the scoreline became 30-11 by the hour mark.

A brace of more scores by the host through hooker, Scott Crapo, and openside flanker Derek Smith, against a second swervy, jinky return by the City fullback for a try, and a result of 44-16 was recorded at Yappert’s last blast.

                Highlanders – Try: Slater, Price, Rangel, Westbrook, Crapo, Smith; Con: Price (2), Welfare (2); Pen: Price (2);
                Rams – Try: #15 (2); Pen: #13 (2)

Match Officials: Aaron Yappert (Referee); Paul Johnson, Marc Nelson (RAs)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Opening Rugby Day in Denver: MDs 2 & 3; WPL

faithful flooded area rugby grounds Saturday to celebrate a most-anticipated inauguration to the 2016-2017 competition cycle: Denver Highlanders, returning Men’s Division 3 (MD-3) titlists and Denver Barbarians, in Men’s Division 2 (MD-2), opened their accounts in large ways, while 2014 and 2015 Women’s Premier League (WPL) champions, Glendale Raptors, staged a thrilling fightback to claim victory over a star-studded, doughty and determined San Diego Surfers XV.

MD-3: Highlanders v Harlequins

Bright and sunny under a cloudless dome at first kick in the MD-3 season opener for Battle of Denver, Part I, between Highlanders and their down-Oneida-Street-rivals, Harlequins, at the Jake. Host Highlanders were looking to continue their 2015-16 league undefeated streak, while the youthful, spirited visitors reckoned to spoil that record.

Highlanders kickoff just brushed the fingertips of a Quins forward before rolling to touch and the home team had a lineout inside their opponent’s ten meter line. That piece won and spun by veteran halfback Zach Dickerson and fast hands  from breakdown in the centers on the short side saw flyer Joe Webb fend away a pair of tackles en route to touch down in the corner and it was 5-nil homeboys inside the first two minutes of play.

Swift and lengthy distribution by pivot, Adam Price, spread the defense and saw inside center Mike Backens through a gap at the visitors 22 for a grounding-made-7 by Price, and the scoreline was 12-0 at minute 5.

Webb got his brace in the 10th minute after a fast scoot for 30 meters along touch, deftly maneuvering past a rear-footed defense: 19-0 with the plus-two by Price.

A hard charge by Backens into the Quins 22 and his smooth offload to onrushing blindside Tim Hochstetler enabled the flanker’s crash into goal for the try that made it 26-0 at ‘13 and the home team were scoring at the blistering rate of two points-per-minute.

Harlequins came alive demonstrably with wonscrum ball at their own ten meter line being transferred quick through halfbacks, Louis Hellen (9) and Steve Zaugg (10), to outside center Mike Marlin; Marlin broke powerfully to space and set flyer Jason Barry to finish forty fast for Zaugg’s conversion, and the travelers were onboard with tallies at 26 and 7 in the 15th minute.

A trio of groundings by: loosehead Kevin Howes, (’30), outside center Ahron Osheroff (’32) and fullback Kyle Gross (’37), 2-from-3 converted by Price, had Highlanders ahead 45-7 at referee Rey Hernandez’ midpoint break signal.

Highlanders were quicker to breakdown with better consolidation and recycle at that phase, which put their guests repeatedly on the rear leg; Quins experienced success when their talented three-quarters line, especially outside center Marlin, laid hands on the pill.

The home XV would see a pair of trys-scored in the second stanza, through wing Brooks Pinnick and replacement center, A. Britt (one converted to goal by Price), while Harlequins got theirs when a late stage linkup enabled fullback Kyle Visagie’s crossing to touch down for Zaugg’s additional deuce, and a result of 57-14 was recorded at Hernandez’ last blast.   

                Highlanders – Try: Webb (2), Backens, Hochstetler, Howes, Osheroff, Gross, Pinnick, Britt; Con: Price (6);
                Harlequins – Try: Barry, Visagie; Con: Zaugg (2)
Match Official: Rey Hernandez

MD-2: Harlequins v Barbarians

While less than a mile down Oneida Street across the Cherry Creek, Cook Park’s Cooker Rugby Grounds was sizzling with action as the Denver Men’s Division 2 intercity derby got underway in the heat of the day. Both clubs finished off the pace last session and each was looking to make a statement of intent regards the imminent league competition. One did.

The visiting Barbarians horde had the better of possession and territory early. Six phases of action, sets and penalties-awarded within the Harlequins business district, 10 meters from their goal, and Barbos tighthead prop Marco DeGuire scooped  pill from the breakdown three meters out and banged across for the touch down: conversion by standoff Lance Eberhard and Barbarians 7, Harlequins 0 in the 7th minute.

Home team got onboard with a penalty struck from in front of the sticks 25 meters out by fullback Patrick Burmeister and it was 7-3 in favor the travelers at minute 17. 

Eberhard matched that with a Barbarians penalty struck from an identical position on the other end of the pitch and travelers stretched their advantage to seven at 10-3 by the 25th minute.

Quins drew level on a fine backline play: inside center Gordon Westmont drifting wide to spread the near channel defense and flyer Paul Bordenkircher filling the space thus created as lightning, 
streaking 25 meters to touch down for Burmeister’s conversion and everybody has their hands filled with 10s nearing time in the half.

A Barbarians wonscrum 10 meters from their hosts goal, and a swift snatch at the rear of the set by the backrow lock saw that 8man Ian Christensen storm to goal untouched for a fiver that made a 15-10 Barbarians halftime advantage at referee Steve Gore’s midpoint whistle.

It was speed and precision of the Harlequins against power and skill of the Barbarians in a well-contested first forty of rugby.

Barbarians outscored the Harlequins 22-12 in the second stanza to record 37-22 victory at Gore’s final tweet.

WPL: Glendale Raptors v San Diego Surfers

In an Opening Day barnburner worthy of a Grand Final, USA Women’s Premier League season got underway at Infinity Rugby Complex’ StoveTop turf pitch with Glendale Raptors squaring off against the swift and powerful San Diego Surfers. Raptors are twice-defending national champions, while the San Diego Surfers are bolstered by personnel from the nearby USA Rugby Olympic Training Center at Chula Vista.

Glendale opened their account with a try by flyer Justine Wypych after well-worked Raptors communication between the hashes and the lane along touch had Wypych touch down an unconverted try and it was 5-nil home team in the 7th minute.

San Diego responded straightaway with surging pick-and-goes from breakdown featuring loosehead prop Sam Pankey and backrow lock Matelina Maluia bringing play into the Raptors end of the field before wing Danielle Miano dotted for five and everyone had a nickel at minute 10.

Glendale displayed indiscipline through the first portion of the initial forty, stymying momentum and benefitting the capitalistic Surfers much. The teams traded trys, San Diego’s converted, and the scores were 12 and 10 for the visitors at referee Kurt Weaver’s halftime signal. San Diego’s free-flowing hands along the three-quarters line and effective industry at breakdown made for the travelers margin at the half.

San Diego upped their advantage when engine, Molly Kinsella, broke to space at Glendale’s 22 and loped to goal for the grounding converted by fullback Tia Blythe, and 19-10 the tallies at the 48th minute.

Glendale’s response came in the form of a three-pointer by their own 15, Mary-Ann Gittings, and 19-13 now at minute 51.

The Surfers extended their lead to 13 nearing the hour mark on a fierce blast from Pankey into goal from five meters out was converted by Blythe: 26-13 for San Diego just now on the StoveTop’s energy-sapping artificial surface.

Raptors closed the gap with a try in the 72nd minute bringing the scoreline to 26-18 for San Diego, but with sands fleeing the hourglass fast, a grim determination settled upon both competing XVs, crowds restless along touch and on the East Terrace.

It was flyer Wypych who provided the magic with a brace of dots in the final three minutes to provide her side its first lead since her opening touch down, sufficient for 28-26 victory for Raptors at Weaver’s last blast.