Sunday, September 13, 2015

MD-2 League Opener: Harlequins v Grizzlies

Men’s Division 2 League: Harlequins v Grizzlies
Grizzlies Lang inputs his scrum image: h Richard
Bright sunny and warming at the noon first kick of the 2015/16 MD2 League on Saturday at Cook Park. Denver Harlequins and Colorado Springs Grizzlies heated up Cook Park’s “Cooker Rugby Ground” well and truly in an action-packed derby on the day.
Harlequins struck the initial blow in the eighth minute when their mobile pack mauled into goal, enabling second row Mikhail Kosyan to ground the pill and a 5-nil lead to the home team early.
Grizzlies experienced difficulty finding touch after penalties awarded, which meant for much front foot work by their hosts in the first 20 minutes of action. A mishandle in the Springs three-quarterline gave Denver the set piece 30 meters out, but homeboys returned the favor shortly by knocking-on and play remained within the 22s through the remainder of the first quarter.
A territorial kick for ground from inside the Springs own half found Harlequins fullback, Ollie Thomas, with room to move and  the #15 chose a clean, cutting line to race for 60 meters along touch before dotting for a fiver that increased the Quins advantage at 10 points to zero after 21 minutes.
Colorado Springs struck back immediately after knock-on by the host made for a set piece at Quins 22 meter line. Pick-and-go from the back of the scrum by 8man Bryan Pemberton, who made it to space before offloading to flanker Justin Ahmie, who freed Andrew Ciccolini for his cross-and-grounding: Harlequins 10, Grizzlies 5 in the 22nd minute.
Quins right back after it; with the Springs moving behind powerful pack work highlighted by the punishing short gains of Pemberton and Ahmie, ball swung wide from the breakdown found the Harlequins jester-turned-thief, Paul Kirchenborder, at midfield instead, and 55 meters later that wing had outpaced the chase for five-made-seven by number 10 Steven Zaugg and it was 17-5 in the 24th minute.
Grizzlies were back into Denver’s 22 when a wee looker over the top of the scrum and the ensuing rush to cover found Springs captain and scrumhalf, Cade Lang, in possession for the touch down and their deficit shortened to a converted goal, 10-17 at minute number 34.
But it was Harlequins who would see joy just before field magistrate Rey Hernandez’ halftime signal. With Springs hard at it, gaining the short, hard-won meters from the breakdown in pounding pick-and-goes, turnover by the Quins and swift skp-service to the backline by halfback Frank Barmes to his flying brace of wings Bordenkircher and Sylver Romero, had Bordenkircher free for fifty plus before unloading to Romero for his crossing and, with conversion by flyhalf Zaugg, tallies at 24 and 10 at midpoint of the contest.
Quins ahead by a brace of converteds after 40 minutes; Grizzlies with the minimal, hot, powerful steps forward from their engines, and lively in the three-quarters, but the travelers were undone by handling mishaps that meant for stymying possession transfers for Harlequins exploitation.
An aerial  display by each side to re-start, with both lofting high hangers but no significant ground gained until the ball was spun to Springs backs, but the Harlequins rush defense caught an immobile Springs receiver standing by his own 22 and turnover had  Quins on the attack as inside center Adam Fisher put his center partner in space to offload to replacement 3/4s Gordon Westmont for the quick close, and it was 29-10 at minute 44.
Colorado Springs spent the following thirty minutes on attack: much of it inside the Harlequins 22 and down into their business district, yet the visitors could not break Denver’s defensive alignment, time-and-again being repulsed scant meters from goal.
A last handful for Harlequins at the death by Bordenkircher in the corner meant 34-10 record at Hernandez’ final whistle.
Colorado Springs Grizzlies Captain Lang stated of the result,“It was the hard-fought game we always expect to play against Quins. They had three big plays that made for the difference at the end of the day.”
Harlequins Coach Angus Peacock was clearly pleased with the bonus point win and felt, “the brightest takeaway was the presence of competent Union Assistant Referees on the sidelines (Stu Geiger and Dan Hattrup running touch), who had a solid contribution… their input is invaluable to rugby’s growth.” Peacock also had, “big respect to Colorado Springs for playing 80 minutes of spirited rugby… and testing us on a number of levels.”
Harlequins - Try: Kosyan, Bordenkircher (2), Westmont, Romero; Conversion: Zaugg (2);
Grizzlies - Try: Ciccolini, Lang
Match Officials: Rey Hernandez (referee); Stu Geiger, Dan Hattrup (assistant referees)

Grizzlies will be looking forward to the club’s return engagement in the spring 2016, when they’ll play host to Harlequins, ideally returning the result.

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