Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gladiators Celebrate Inaugural Match with W-I-N

Denver Harlequins v Salt Lake City Gladiators
Salt Lake City Gladiators had reason for a celebratory, post-match Haka  
Forty minutes southeast of PleasantView, it was warm and breezy at Cook Park's Cooker Rugby Ground for a friendly officiated by the well-traveled Chris Huff (see previous report) - who'd done the early in Boulder as well - and Denver v Salt Lake City after the pill in Gladiators inaugural fixture. 
Harlequins making inroads early with repeated forays into the SLC 22, but their guests' stoppages out wide sufficient to contain and turnover. Salt Lake methodic in patient penetration right up the center from the loose and threatening the Harlequins goal before a Gladiators knock-on in the host business district enabled wing Paul Bordenkircher's savvy scoop and clearance.
Denver aboard first after SLC were pinged at breakdown and breakaway Jason Burbach with the sticksplitter from 30 meters out on the left post: 3-nil Quins in the 16th minute.
Inside center Adam Fisher (former Super Leaguer with Denver Barbarians) nifty shift to Bordenkircher put the flyer in space 30 meters out for his fast finish, and with Burbach perfect on the conversion, a lead extension to 10 for the home team after 28 minutes; and tallies of 10 and 0 for halftime at Huff's breaktime blast.
Gladiators better with inside channel work, pick-and-goes from breakdown, though the visitors were a bit untidy in the loose at tackles, while Harlequins on top of the counterstrike with fullback, Mike Boyle, and Bordenkircher returning sharply and rapidly.
Salt Lake roared out of the blocks after re-start as openside Tau Tongaonevai collected flyhalf  Maka Pulu's kick ahead and blasted into goal for the touch down; with Pulu's spot-on conversion struck from 30 meters, just outside the left post, a tightening of tallies at 10-7 at 46'. 

Gladiators on the march with Harlequins attending
Gladiators would take the lead with a banging sparkler along far touch for fifty meters by flyer Felise Enoka; Pulu's extras made it 14 for SLC and 10 for Quins in the 55th minute.
Swift service by Salt Lake halfback Naoleni Fonva had  fullback, Moresby Tauiautusa, grounded a try for relief flyhalf Lofi Fuatogi's completion and it was 21-10 to the travelers at 68 minutes.

Quins with snappy backline penetration
Ever-present Bordenkircher drew Denver closer after a cutback incision for 30 meters made for his try, completed by Burbach, and 21-17 for Salt Lake with a final fantastic ten minutes of action yet to play.
But last numbers for Gladiators as Pulu struck a penalty in the 78th minute for a final scoreline of 24-17 to Salt Lake City Gladiators in  first-match, first-win victory for the Utahns.

             Harlequins - Try: Bordenkircher (2); Con: Burbach (2): Pen: Burbach;
             Gladiators - Try: Tongaonevai, Enoka, Tauiautusa; Con: Pulu (2), Fuatogi: Pen Pulu
Match Official: Chris Huff

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