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.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Serevi RugbyTown 7s Championship

Howard Kent’s Denver 7s regional select rugby side went to the bank on Sunday, once again making a $10,000 withdrawal from the Serevi RugbyTown tournament account. For 10 Large was first (and only) prize awarded after the Kent-organized 7-a-side, coached by the instructional excellence of Steve La Porta and Jason Kelly, ran out to a two-try advantage over in-town rivals, Glendale Raptors, and then held out the Raptors comeback bid to claim back-to-back championships in the preeminent, fast-paced, three-day competition at Infinity Rugby Complex.

A brace of early trys by US Rugby 7s Olympian Ben Pinkelman bookended by a pair of later stage groundings by Kansas City Blues accelerant backrow Gannon Moore, and six points on try-conversions by Denver’s inimitable pivot, Maximo de Achaval, made numbers sufficient to provide for victory at the last blast from referee Leah Berard’s tweeter with the record of 31-24 for Denver.
Denver 7s v Ramblin Jesters

Denver upended Ramblin Jesters, an elite squad from the United Kingdom, 19-12 in their semifinal contest to gain the field for the Grand Final, while Glendale topped Tiger Rugby, an Olympic Development Academy, by a score of 17-5 to punch its championship ticket.
Raptors v Tiger Rugby

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Serevi RT7s: semis set

Ramblin Jesters, an invitation-select 7s side from the British Isles, were the only team able to maintain perfection yesterday at the Serevi RugbyTown 7s Tournament in the Infinity Rugby Complex. Home town heroes Glendale Raptors, regional selects and defending champions Denver 7s, and Tiger Rugby (out of Columbus, OH) fill out the semifinal field. 

Action begins today straight up at noon with the RT7s Championship Cup Final, worth Ten Large to its winner, kicking at 5pm.

The Jesters rolled over Air Force by a score of 45-0 in their quarterfinal clash and will take on Denver 7s, who held out SoCal Griffins at the death to claim 14-10 victory, in the second Cup semi at 2:15. Host Raptors, 26-5 victors over the red-hot British Army squad and Tiger Rugby, who pipped the US Army 14-12, will determine the other Cup finalist in their semi at that will play out at 2pm.

Shield semifinalists United States Marine Corp and Upright Rogues (TX) in the Kettle at 12pm on the nose. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Serevi RugbyTown 7s - Locals Front

Denver 7s , defending champs in orange and blue, tied at the top of Group C with...

...British Army, in white, whom they'll play today
The 5th running of the Serevi RugbyTown 7s delivered everything one might have hoped for yesterday in the Kettle at Infinity with thunder and lightning evident throughout the opening-day fixtures of the three-day, seven-a-side extravaganza.

Pool A, the Military Group, has Army on top after comprehensive wins over Air Force (41-0), Marines (29-7) and Navy (26-7), and look to claim the pool today v Coast Guard to open today's action at noon; the Marines will be driving the car from the back seat as they'll play numbers two and three, Air Force and Navy, the outcomes of the two matches will determine who moves on to quarters;

Pool B, a lively quintet with home team Glendale Raptors sharing the topspot in the group with Griffins after thrilling comeback action by the aerial predators enabled the draw versus the Southern Californian elites; each play Black Dragons today with the Raptors match kicking just past 12:30;

Pool C, with 2015 Champions Denver 7s and a swift and steadfast British Army 7s bunch both undefeated and through the group, will see its seedings sorted after those squads square off just beyond 1:30 this afternoon;

Pool D, and the UK's Ramblin Jesters look the business in the group at 3-0; they'll finish first if they can best Rogues Rugby at 2:17 today; Tiger Rugby, after a loss to the quarter-panel shirts, will need to secure victory over Stars Rugby 7s at 3:37 in order to advance to the quarterfinal round, which begins at 5pm