Monday, September 14, 2015

MD-2: Barbarians versus Steelers

Lineout to Provo        image: h Richard
Hotly overcast and breezy on the Cooker Rugby Ground at Cook Park, Denver as Provo Steelers battled Denver Barbarians on Sunday in a bruising finale to the Utahns epic, two-day road trip to Colorado’s capitol. The Men of Steel were just under 24 hours from an extremely physical, bonus point victory at Glendale on the StoveTop versus the Raptors on Saturday, and they were looking to close out the weekend with a second win; the Barbarians had a decidedly different outcome in mind.
Steelers mishandled the kickoff catch and Barbarians hard into their guest’s 22 before knocking-on to give Provo the scrumput at Steelers 10 meter line. First blood to the travelers after ball swung to the short side saw a nifty exchange between outside center Meiohihifo Kuli and flyer Sione Latu at midfield that sent the wing down touch for the closing converted by Kuli and it was 7-nil for Provo after four minutes of play.
A second mishap obtaining possession from kickoff by Provo had Denver on its front foot, pressuring inside their opponent’s ten meter line, mixing things up with short, savvy pick-and-goes interspersed with service to the three-quarterline in forward maneuverings. Barbarians leveled tallies out of a lineout six meters from goal after a pair of tight banging phases begat Barbos halfback Timmy Hanify’s sling to his backline where inside center Jedi Teofilo crashed into goal for the touch down converted by flyhalf Ryan Walker, and everyone could claim that lucky number seven after a dozen ticks off of referee Erik Geib’s horologe.
Barbarians turn to flop the re-start reception and Steelers on the determined march with short, penetrating p-and-gs into Denver’s territory. A bit of indiscipline by the travelers saw the pill change hands and Barbos well-working their pattern now until Green turnover at breakdown put Provo’s front foot forward.
Latu would ground his brace after a 30 meter scoot subsequent to Kuli’s dynamic action in the centers, which freed the wing for the closure; with Kuli spot-on the conversion, 14-7 for the visitors in the 23rd minute.
_20150913_163033.JPG Barbarians Hanify (last, stretched leg) digs out the pill from the breakdown    image: h Richard

Geib flashed yellow at the Barbo, and then yellow, too, for Provo and the XVs were down to fourteen for a tenner as the boys got back to the rugby.
Last joy for Provo in the first forty when wing Anisi Saimoni quickly-tapped a penalty and streaked 30 meters for the corner dot; Kuli’s conversion from touch impressive for the additional deuce and 21-7 to Steelers as Geib sounded the halftime note.
Provo were tenacious at breakdown, though somewhat indisciplined in the stoppage, which resulted in an unfavorable penalty count on their end, while Barbarians were fluid in the three-quarters with halfback combination of Hanify and Walker supplying significant service to the Men in Green’s backline.
Barbarians successful after the re-start with the tight p-and-gs from breakdown, putting their adversaries on the back leg in slow, purposeful movement forward. Penalty bug biting Provo just now and Denver absolutely profiting from ground gained thereby. Patience from Barbarians inclose by goal with numerous phases crabbing across the pitch until ball swung wide found a streaking #15, PT Smith, on a fast line to the numbers zone and his touch down, converted by Walker, drew Denver within a converted goal of Provo at 21-14 in the 53rd minute.
Smith making his presence known now as the speedy fullback nailed his brace with a grounding at minute 65 - though Walker’s completion attempt fell just short - and a tightening of tallies at 21-19 as the crowd settled in for one of those fantastic finishes in the final fifteen!
A further yellow ticket issued to the Steelers had the guests down one man, and Walker’s following sticksplitter from 30 meters in front of goal gave Denver its first lead at 22-21, with a grimness falling about the field.
Barbo infraction just inside their own ten meter line gave Kuli the opportunity to retake the advantage for Provo, but his booming penalty stroke from outside the left post drifted just wide in the 74th minute.
But Provo’s second 5/8ths was sure certain with a penalty struck from 45 meters out scant minutes later and Provo had regained the lead at 24-22 at 76’.
And Steelers would seal their victory with a try by none other than the magician himself as Kuli toed a grubber into space and collected same at pace for a final five made seven by 8man Viliami Vi for Provo’s bonus point record of 31-22 at Geib’s last blast.
Barbarians - Try: Teofilo, Smith (2); Con: Walker (2); Pen: Walker;
Steelers - Try: Latu (2), Saimoni, Kuli; Con: Kuli (4); Pen: Kuli
Match Officials: Erik Geib (referee); Gary Hartzell, John Kenney (assistant referees)

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