Sunday, February 21, 2016

Opening Day in Colorado Rugby

Battle for Denver
image: Matt Shafroth

Opening Day in Men’s Division 2 at the Parkfield Rugby Oval in northeast Denver, and Barbarians versus Harlequins. The sides got after the pill in ideal weather conditions save for an occasional vagrant, bullying wind. The inaugural 2016 fifteens fixture was a lavish ten-try affair under a warming sun with Barbos center PT Smith and Harlequins flyer Paul Bordenkircher as well as Quins hooker, Luke Porter, providing plenty of action for the highlight reel with  grand scintillating and lengthy burns through their opponent’s defensive structures and powerful surges near goal.
Much play between the 22s initially as each side attempted to establish its pattern with possession maintained by short pick-and-goes from breakdown interspersed by crashing inside channel industry, until a penalty award enabled host Harlequins the lineout within 15 meters of Barbarians goal. A sure-handed take by the attacking forwards and multiple phases worked into the Barbo business district before Quins hooker, Luke Porter, scooped ball and bored through a pair of defenders to touch down for inside center Shane Milek’s conversion: 7-0 to Harlequins after 17 minutes.
Barbarians replied in short order when outside center PT Smith shook off a tackle inside his own ten meter line, a cutting step by a defender followed by a bolt for 60 meters to score, and after an errant conversion attempt 7-5 the significant figures in the 23rd minute.
Shifting wind gusts and early-season jitters contributed to handling errors and thus knock-ons, resulting in possession exchanges in bruising contact and penetrating progress as the boys shook away the off-season, showing exciting form and function.
Harlequins extended their lead at minute 26 with Porter picking up his brace after a Barbarian was caught in possession close by goal and the Harlequin enveloping swarm turned ball over for hooking machine Porter to dive across goal and touch down: 12-5 Quins now.
Quins upped their advantage on a penalty struck by Milek from 25 meters outside the right post and it was 15-5 with halftime approaching.
image:Matt Shafroth

Barbos inside center Shane Milek ended the first forty with a sticksplitting penalty knocked through 20 meters from the middle of the left hashmarks, and Barbarians drew within a completed goal at 15-8 as referee Rick Goldammer signaled the midpoint break; it was lads to lockers for hydration and instruction as the wind freshened. Harlequins leaper Mikhail Kosyn was disruptive to Barbarians lineout format and for the Men in Green, tighthead Jared Stalling and 8man Ron Tufele were intently active from  breakdown with pounds forward in meters-gained post-transition.
Harlequins wing, Paul Bordenkircher, opened the second stanza with a bang, returning kickoff 65 meters on a sparkling, jinky line (reminiscent of former Queen City and Denver Highlanders flyer, Eric Landauer) to ground centerposts, and with an additional deuce by Milek, 22-8 in the 41st.
Bit of a jouncy pill with slippery handles on swirling, gusty breezes now and each side’s forwards seeing much work as action kept within the 22s; funky kicks and wayward passes riding the wind into touch and away from intention.
A Milek penalty attempt struck the right post from 35 meters-out and caromed into play. Barbarians gained possession, but Quins turned it over and after eight phases worked steady to goal, Harlequins tighthead Casey Norwald snatched the ball from the rear of the breakdown and dove across to try, increasing the Harlequins margin to 21 at 27-8 in the 55th minute with fresh troops entering the fray from both sides.
Flyhalf Adam Hunter’s inside feed at the Barbos 10 meter line to a streaking Bordenkircher put the flyer to space for 25 meters before #11, in turn, offloaded sweetly to fullback Sylver Romero for his fast finish; 32-8 the Quins lead at the hour mark.
Barbarians returned fire with Smith hotstepping past a pair of defenders in two, jolting jags for a 30-meter transit to goal converted for a 32-15 count in the 68th minute.
But a trio of groundings by Harlequins Kosyn (1) and Bordenkircher (2 for his hattryck), and a conversion by Milek made for a 49-15, bonus-point result for the Merry Men at Goldammer’s last whistle.
        Harlequins Try: Porter (2), Bordenkircher (3), Norwald, Kosyn, Romero; Con: Milek (3);     Pen: Milek;
          Barbarians Try: Smith (2); Con: Lancaster; Pen: Walker
Match Officials: Rick Goldammer (field magistrate)

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