Wednesday, April 26, 2017

MD-3: Highlanders v Rams


Denver Highlanders v Queen City Rams

Warm with a breezy crosswind at times for kickoff of the front-running Highlanders and second on-the-table Rams derby that would determine the current standard in the league. StoveTop at Infinity well-heated and each XV looked sharp in their respective pre-match run-ups. All-on, all-in and racing straightaway each XV’s forwards to first-contact at referee Stuart Geiger’s opening whistle.

The visiting Rams collected the starter and worked three, tidy pick-and-go phases before ball was provided their pivot, Alex Moore, who booted downfield for touch, though that sideline was not achieved. The lengthy aerial was gathered by Highlander fullback, Brooks Pinnick, who found touch at City’s ten-meter line.

Rams were employing multiple brief bashes from breakdown distributed by scrumhalf, Jake Wilson, to Alexander for the long rangers off his toe to which Highlanders back-three-backs responded effectively in the early goings.

City first onboard with penalty conversion struck by outside center, Charlie Keener, and 3-nil for Rams in the 10th minute.
Highlanders numbers guy, Sean Welfare, and the lineout take

Handling errors from both sides were made by the feisty wind, though they were largely due the intense defensive play shown by each side in the lively, see-saw battle.

Highlanders got up after a multi-phase movement into Queen City’s 22 had breakdown four meters from goal. Backrow lock Clinton Camp snared the ball from that loose piece and he drove into goal for a touch down converted by second row, Sean Welfare, and it was 7-3 for Highlanders after 20 minutes.

Home team would add a try five minutes later, on the counter, when Pinnick chipped a popper beyond the defense, collected same smoothly at pace and dotted in the corner: 12-3 for ‘Landers just then.

A fine bit of communication between Highlanders players along the East Terrace touch line with flyer, Aaron Osheroff, Pinnick and the hard charging openside flanker, Derek Smith; Smith offloaded to loosehead, Jeff Westbrook, who finished for the score: conversion by Welfare and 19-3 at 30 minutes.

Queen City worked the pill into the Highlanders 22, when a knock forward gave the scrum-put to the defenders. Wonscrum, yet poorly cleaned and a desperation clearance was driven on a low trajectory, not into the intended touch, but straight down pitch into the basket of onrushing fullback, Grant Fabian. Fabian dipped and slipped through the defense as a ghost on his 50-meter cutter to goal for touch down turned-to-seven by Keener and 19-10 with five minutes left in the first forty.

Highlanders would have the final shout of the period when Smith broke to space and offloaded to flyer, Pete Gray, who closed the last five for the try that made the scoreline Highlanders 24, Queen City Rams 10 at Geiger’s midpoint whistle.

Queen City’s pattern of pick-and-go bashes subsequent to lengthy territorial kicks was somewhat confounded by the efficient reply of the Highlanders defensive back-three, who worked the coordinated counter well, which became Denver’s potent offense.

Keener struck a booming three-pointer from 44 meters outside the left post in the 45th minute and it was 24-13.

With tension mounting on the pitch and the action getting a bit scrappy, Geiger had occasion to chat with the captains for a moment, and then the lads got back to rugby.

Highlanders scrum shoved Rams off the ball in a pair of early, second stanza set pieces that boded well for Denver in that final forty.

Tighthead Kevin Howes crossed-and-dotted for Welfare’s additional deuce: 31-13 at the 55th minute.
City would send breakaway, Hayden Kinnear, across for a grounding to bring the tallies to 31 and 18 by the 76th minute of play, but Highlanders would have the last shout with a try by replacement wing, Tim Phillips, and its conversion by Welfare for a record of 38-18 at the end of the day.


               Highlanders – Try: Camp, Pinnick, Westbrook, Gray, Howes, Phillips; Con: Welfare (4);
               Rams - Try: Grant, Kinnear; Con: Keener; Pen: Keener (2)

Match Officials: Stu Geiger (Referee); Bill Cook, Mark Huff (RAs)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Women's Friendly: Glendale Raptors v Denver Black Ice

Women’s Friendly
Raptors v Black Ice

The adult women’s league was rocking the heated rugby on the Infinity Complex’ StoveTop Turf Pitch yesterday in the match that kicked off at 1pm on the highly regarded paddock. Fans who packed the East Terrace and lined West Touch enjoyed impeccable weather conditions and better still, a fine display of sport as the home side from Glendale topped their Denver rivals, 24-14 in the spirited contest.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

MD-2: Denver Barbarians v Provo Steelers

Denver Barbarians v Provo Steelers
Warm with a swirling, vagrant wind that would affect handling somewhat, beneath partial clouds on Infinity’s StoveTop turf pitch for the clash between numbers two and three on the league table. Provo Steelers were coming off five-point victory over Boulder Rugby earlier in the RugbyDay that had gained the Men of Steel show position in the standings, one point in front of their Utah brethren, Park City Haggis; Denver’s last result was a stirring, 10-point win over league-leading and formerly unbeaten Glendale Raptors down the Kettle last weekend.

Provo scrumhalf, Filivalea Mafoa, prepares to distribute the wonscrum

Provo commencement kickoff one bounce into touch and Barbarians lineout 25 meters from their own goal; toss tapped to scrumhalf, CSU-alum Carmine Hernandez, who distributed smoothly to pivot, Chuck Ajarrista. The 10’s skip-pass to outside center and former Oklahoma University standout, Michael Al-Jiboori, enabled that 13’s fend to space and subsequent 75-meter dash to goal for the opening touch down-made-seven by Ajarrista, and it was 7-0 Barbos in the second minute.  

Steelers responded by wresting the turnover after restart when 8man Viliami Vi stripped ball and Provo were on the march in brief, powerful pick-and-goes from tackle past their ten-meter line until knock-on reversed possession. Denver replied with wonscrum and jagged tears into the mid-channels by their centers until ball spilled forward at tackle gave the set piece put to the travelers in the spirited, physical early goings.

Ajarrista stretched the Denver advantage to 10 points with a sticksplitter from outside the left post, 18 meters out in the 12th minute: Barbarians 10, Steelers 0 just then.

A Barbarians territorial kick ran through goal and action brought back inside the Denver 10-meter line for a set piece scrum, Provo put. That won, Steelers began to work their pattern with close communication between the forwards inching the action toward the Barbos 22 before the attempt to go wide taken by a demon burst of wind into touch and possession reversed.

Barbarians lineout win close in 

Denver hooker and USA Rugby MD-1 National Clubside Champion with Las Vegas Blackjacks, Ron Tufele, grounded a fiver to extend the Barbarians lead to 15 and wing Amani Griffith (Rocky Mountain Challenge All Star) and inside center Eric Sykes Jr. (New Mexico Highlands graduate) dotted for Ajarrista’s conversions to close out the half; 29-0 for homeboys at referee Stu Geiger’s midpoint signal.

Barbos looked sharp through the first forty, while Provo seemed to be struggling under the short turnaround between their double-tap fixture schedule this day, and the mad wind made hash of each XVs movements on occasion.

The home side would hit the half-century mark on a trio of further groundings by: Ajarrista, number 2 Jason Christensen and replacement wing, Dominic Rufran (University of Wyoming prominent).

Provo Steelers got theirs just before time when tighthead prop, Siosiua Taufa, battered his way through the Barbarians defense at the hosts ten-meter line and brought play into the 22 where a penalty was assessed for Denver hands-in at breakdown. Tap-and-go and fierce battle closeby goal as Barbarians defense sought containment while visiting horde looked to finally breach. And it was Taufa once more who forced the path to the try zone and dotted down for the grounding that made the record 50-5 for Denver at Geiger’s last blast.

                Denver – Try: Al-Jiboori, Tufele, Griffith, Eric Sykes Jr., Ajarrista, Christensen, Ruffran; Con: Ajarrista (6); Pen: Ajarrista;
                Provo – Try: Taufa
Match Officials: Stu Geiger (Referee); Paul Johnston, John Kenney (RAs)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

MD2: Glendale v Barbarians

Glendale Raptors v Denver Barbarians

Perfect conditions under occasional overcast down the Kettle for the engagement between league-leading Raptors, owners of undefeated status heading into the contest, and onrushing Barbos, who have burst from a four-team chasing bottleneck to claim second place in the Frontier Conference’s Rocky Mountain Rugby league standings. Glendale had outscored their opposition by better than 37 points per match in the season that began last September, while Denver had counted 110 points-for in its brace of matches since the spring restart last month. Glendale had already taken title on the league this season and sought to maintain its unlost record. Denver would respond to the 7-43 hiding administered by Glendale last fall.

Glendale crisp after receiving kickoff through two phases, then knock-on in the tackle reversed possession. This was to become somewhat of a pattern throughout the contest due the speed and intensity of each XV’s defensive force and form. Each employed the short, punishing pick-and-goes from breakdown subsequent to distribution to their respective midfields and crashing centers. 

The sides were as heavyweights: feinting, jabbing, looking for an opening to apply impact.

Glendale missed a sticksplitter in the 13th minute. Barbarians lock for the ten-minute seat at ’15, and visitors down one player during that interval. Raptors into the Barbarians 22 and down by the business district, ten-meters from goal, but defense adequate to the task of turnover at breakdown and Barbos flyhalf, Chuck Ajarrista, cleared his lines.

Raptors inside center Justin Pauga through a gap made by fast recycle from the breakdown by the home team’s scrumhalf, Wes Laborde, and Pauga was hard into wide open space; offload knocked-on and bullet dodged by the travelers in the 18th minute.

Furious action through the opening three-quarters of the first forty with the sides seeking to establish their respective patterns, but each XV’s defense up to the task of containment, grappling turnover at breakdown and clearance thereafter.

Barbarians back at full strength and fullback, Ryan Walker, on a blazing counter into Raptors territory before offloading to second five-eight, Michael Al-Jiboori, who shoved away a would-be stopper to gain space for his 25-meter scoot into goal and touch down: 5-nil Barbarians in the 32nd minute.

Glendale response was quick: Barbos committed the breakdown penalty, not relaesing the tackled player, 20 meters out from goal and Raptors fullback Derek Smith struck surely the shot on goal. 5-3 for visitors yet at minute 34.

Barbos replied with backrow lock, Jason Christenson, plowing through congestion to space and openside flanker, former CSU standout Evan Geist, abetting the movement into the Glendale 22, but home defense turnover about 10 from their own goal at breakdown and penalty levied upon Barbarians by referee, Steve Gore, enabled home team clearance.

Failure to release the tackled player by Denver five meters from their line meant the choiced scrum, Glendale-put. Couple of re-awards and re-sets before homeboys took the lead on a shot on goal by Smith and 6-5 for Raptors as lads were to lockers following Gore’s halftime signal. Tight tallies at midpoint indicative of intensity expressing itself in fluid continuity disrupted by each XV’s tenacious containment defense.

Home team right on the front foot after restart, marching methodically into the Denver end in brief pick-and-goes and near channel smashes until lightning-fast recycle by Laborde made for a sizable gap in the Barbarians defense out wide. Weak side wing, Nick Johnson, swept in to collect and shoot through that hole swift to dot for five and the Glendale lead extended to half dozen at 11-5 after 43 minutes of action.

Raptors returned for more in the form of a bash to space by Johnson, his fine offload well-taken by Laborde, and subsequent sweet communication to flyhalf Sam Enari had the number ten closing 22 meters quickly for a scoreline of 16-5 in the 47th minute: this one was in danger of coming off the rails for Barbos just now.

Denver penalty award outside the Raptors 22 and the savvy standoff, Ajarrista, quick-tap, slicing to space and just outracing to goal for the corner completion that made it 16-10 and would prove to be the critical turning point in the match at ‘51. For Ajarrista would slot three penalty strikes in the ensuing 15 minutes to give the Barbarians 19-16 advantage by the 71st minute; white-knuckle time just now.

Re-start knocked on by Denver, and Glendale at the Barbarians 22 with the scrum-put. Won and spun, but visitors, who’d executed better at breakdown in the second stanza, turned the pill over. Right now vital possession at the set piece to Denver, clearance thereafter and relief for the time being.

Fast and furious the play now, and Barbarians won-turnover at the Raptors ten-meter line, which led to scrumdown and Barbos put. That set won and spun, Denver advanced to the Glendale 22 in three patiently executed phases. Service to first five-eight, Eric Sykes Jr, who forced space with a fend and eluded a pair of tacklers en route to bouncing off a high tackle to dot; Ajarrista’s additional deuce, and 26-16 for Denver at ’76, that became the result at Gore’s final whistle.


                Glendale – Try: Johnson, Enari; Pen: Smith (2);
                Denver - Try: Al-Jiboori, Ajarrista, Sykes; Con: Ajarrista
                                Pen: Ajarrista (3)

Match Officials: Steve Gore (Referee); Tom Coburn, Mick Ryan (RAs)


Saturday, April 8, 2017

MD2: Raptors v Barbarians - TODAY!

Denver Barbarians will celebrate 50 years of rugby in 2017 and have been the XV to beat for pretty much every match of that illustrious half century. Glendale Raptors are somewhat younger, but have established an estimable pattern of winning rugby over their course.

Today, they'll go at it Down the Kettle at Infinity in what is sure to be blindingly splendid competition. Come see.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Rugby Colorado: High School Boys - East v PAC

Denver East v PAC Rugby
Cooling at dusk and a bit of a breeze from the south end goal as Denver East High Angels and PAC Rugby clashed at East’s venerable venue, Heaven. The Angels were undefeated and looking to remain in that pristine condition, while PAC were recently returned from a successful tour of Ireland over the spring recess.

Not an auspicious beginning for homeboys as kickoff did not travel 10 meters forward; scrum center for the travelers. That set piece won and picked up from the back of the scrum and to breakdown. East were caught infringing, and PAC flyhalf, Evan Price, found touch inside the Angels 22. However, lineout toss not in straight, possession reversed and the Denver standoff, Luke Neureiter, was able to clear his lines.

A period of instability followed with force and intensity by both sides at breakdown causing knock-ons and mishandles, truncating movements. PAC were assessed a penalty for offside at breakdown and East fullback, Max Gottesfeld (who’ll be on a full ride to Denison University this fall), split the sticks from just inside the interior right hash 30 meters out, and 3-nil East after six minutes.

Four minutes on, East were knocking on the door with a penalty award five meters from goal. Quickly-tapped by Angels scrumhalf, Theo Bennett, and the halfback angled across for his touch down that made it 8-0.

Bennett distributes from the won lineout

PAC failure to control the pill at breakdown and subsequent infractions cited by referee Chris Huff therein, denied the travelers possession and worked to keep East on the front foot. 

East back for more in the form of hooker Aiden Rocchio, who continues to impress with his rate of industry, crashed over from inclose, his try made seven by Gottesfeld, and 15-0 in the 14th minute.

Angels back in PAC territory employing short pick-and-goes from breakdown and fiery inside channel gambits. Scrum won by East at PAC 22 distributed by Bennett to Neureiter, who skipped a lengthy communication to his outside center, Holden Kjerland-Nicoletti, and that man was on a scorching cutter inside to dot for Gottesfeld’s addition deuce: 22-0 at after 18 ticks.

One more for Denver by inside center, Yanni Stavropoulos, hard-charging through congestion for 20 to ground for Gottesfeld’s plus two, and the scoreline was 29-0 with time running fast in the opening session.

PAC came alive with significance right before time in the half when outside center Casey Grieve smashed through East defensive alignment on the weak side and broke to space at midfield for a 30-meter swift transit before being brought to ground. Patience in the visitor attack now as forwards crept slowly into East business district, ten-meters from goal, in brief, stealthy pick-and-goes just shy of the Promised Land. Quick pick from the breakdown by halfback, George Edwards, and his powerful second effort enabled the pop across for a try and PAC were aboard, score was 29-5, and referee Huff sounded the midway break and it was lads to lockers for hydration and instruction.

PAC would have to sort their infractive behavior at breakdown in the second stanza, while East would look to continue in a similar manner as they performed in the initial period of play. 

Much better stuff from PAC in the early going of second stanza with runners making the gainline and travelers benefiting large from East penalties now.

Bit scrappy with each side turning the ball over at breakdown only to lose the pill at the ensuing loose piece.

Price hoisted a huge Garryowen that proved uncollectible for the defending back-three Angels, and PAC were into Denver territory with a vengeance and down into their business district. Slashing move by blindside flanker, Isaac Tadla, and he was into goal for touch down converted by Grieve; 29-12 in the 10th minute and visitors looking lively now.

Neureiter had moved to fullback at the half, Gottesfeld to the right wing and East talisman, Sam Adix, came on in the pivot. Adix began to display his estimable kicking skills with short grubbers and lookers over the top of the scrum interspersed with the high hangers and long rangers.

Two rapid seven-pointers: by openside Zach Jacobs and Kjerland-Nicoletti getting his brace, each converted by Gottesfeld, and it became 43-12 for hosts middle of the half.

Adix showed and goed at his own 22 and loped a wavy, weavy line for 75 meters to try for Gottesfeld’s deuce and 50-12 just now.

PAC would have the final shout when Price gathered a jouncer from the loose and tore along touch 30 meters to goal for Grieve’s plus two, and 50-19 in the 23rd minute, and those were the significant figures at Huff’s last blast.


                East - Try: Bennett, Rocchio, Holden Kjerland-Nicoletti (2), Stavropoulos, Jacobs, Adix; Con: Gottesfeld (6); Pen: Gottesfeld;
                PAC - Try: Edwards, Tadla, Price; Con: Grieve (2)

Match Official: Chris Huff

Sunday, April 2, 2017

MD-3: Highlanders v Flamingos

Denver Highlanders v Northern Colorado Flamingos

Chill and overcast on Infinity’s StoveTop turf pitch for the match between the ends of the league table. Visitors would be hampered by a 14-man complement that had their hosts at a significant advantage from the get-go.

incoming the lineout

Flamingos kicked off and Highlanders established their platform after that reception at the ensuing breakdown and proceeded forward in short, staggered pick-and-goes until ball swung to the first channel had inside center, Mike Backens, probe the defense though that maneuver was well-contained by the Northern Colorado defensive alignment. Possession maintained by the home team and the skip out to the wing resulted in a bundling to touch and turnover at midfield and a Flamingos lineout. Toss captured by Northern Colorado was spun swift to the standoff, who sped through a gaping hole made by a rushing Highlanders defender and an interior defender who’d hung back. Flamingos number 10 blasted into space, and with a fiery hotstep, wove a finely threaded looping pathway to goal through Denver’s poorly arrayed back-three defense and touched down for his own conversion. The man-deficit proved no obstacle to the guests early: 7-0 Northern Colorado in the fourth minute of action.

Highlanders got five back, 10 minutes on, with a won-lineout and rapid hands along the three-quartersline enabled the homeside to capitalize on the one-player advantage freeing wing Rocco Petramula for his line to goal and touchdown that made it 7-5 for Flamingos after the conversion attempt went wide the left upright.

Petramula got his brace shortly thereafter, and with the added deuce by standoff, Adam Price, homeboys had a lead, 12-7, they’d not relinquish… only expand upon as the Rocky Mountain Division-3 frontrunners carried on for half dozen more groundings by the usual suspects: Backens, Zach Dickinson, Jeff Westbrook, Josh Slater, Tim Hochstetler and company for a scoreline of 50-7 at referee Bill Cook’s final tweet.