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Friday, April 15, 2016

Boys HS: Denver East v Colorado Springs

Stravropoulus brace aids Angels


On a warm and blustery spring evening, in arguably the finest fought contest of 2016, Denver East High Angels cemented their hold on the topspot with victory over Colorado Springs Grizzlies at Heaven. A seesaw battle of epic proportions required heroic Denver defense at the death for the Angels to maintain their unblemished run in their campaign to remain Colorado State Rugby Champions.

Angels ran riot in the first fifteen minutes. Denver’s consistent swarm to the breakdown with impressive intensity, complemented by swift recycle and a fluid threequartersline, made for much Denver possession in the initial stages of the match. East with the wonscrum 22 meters out from goal. Service misdirected to inside center, Adam Leonard, for a weak side ploy that set up the second phase with 15 meters to go. A splendid sweeping movement crossfield had outside center Yanni Stavropoulus slice through a Springs defense at sixes and sevens to dot in the corner and it was 5-nil Denver in the 7th minute.

East reprised that act a scant three minutes later with Leonard running hard on the soft side to breakdown and the big arcing push to goal for flyer Blake Pulland to touch down. The gusty wind denied the conversion and it became 10-nil in favor of the rapturous, rowdy bunch.

Grizzlies were making good ground with pounders from breakdown to their first channel receivers, but were being undone by unforced handling errors.

One more for the Angels in the form of fullback Henry Page grounding, and 15-0 with heavenly host looking more than competent on offense backed by an impregnable defense.

Colorado Springs got aboard after patient, pick-and-go marches to within thirty meters of the Angels goal, employing Coach Otis McGregor's confounding stackable scoop-and-slashes from tackle. Grizzlies worked their way well into East business district before flyhalf Cam Grouse scooped the pill from breakdown and knifed across for a try, and it was 15-5 by minute number 20.
Men's Junior All American Will Fifita, left, and Aurora Saracens teammate, Sel Funaki, right. were on hand performing due dilligence; Fifita, injured at USA trials, will return for the Sarries match v East

The Big Southern Bear got a second score just prior to referee Stu Geiger's halftime signal on a bashing, forty meter transit by wing Clayton Hayes; an additional deuce by scrumhalf Henry Rodriguez and the scoreline had tightened considerably at 15-12, and the travelers had awoken mightily.

With time dwindling in the half, a robust movement from the won-lineout 20 meters out had the East 8man, Kiluea Today,  through the gap to space for a touchdown that made it, 20-12 for East  and it was lads to lockers for information and hydration at Geiger’s halftime blast

The thunder of the Denver backline and the canny long range boot of Angels flyhalf Sam Addix pinned the Grizzlies in their own end time and again; that was countered by the sure and steady Colorado Springs industry at breakdown making for a competitive and entertaining derby of the highest grade in the first period of play.

Grizzlies roared out of the blocks at the re-start, with piercing blasts from breakdown by numbers 3 and 13, Marciano Martinez and Joe Gums resp., which saw the tighthead prop through to touch down and Grizzlies had closed the gap to three once more at 20-17 two minutes into second stanza.

Angels replied strongly, absolutely blowing Springs off the ball at breakdown and setting their backs loose to create havoc among the Colorado Springs defenders. It was Leonard on a gliding angled incursion for 30 meters and a banging finish by Stavropoulus into goal for the grounding that extended the Angels lead to the "magic eight": 25-17, seven minutes in just now.

Grizzlies back down into Angels territory, threatening Denver's goal, but a significant turnover and clearance by Addix relieved that pressure and it was right back up the paddock for East until a huge goaline stand by the visitors made for their own turnover closeby their own line and the tense action on the pitch translated to the crowd in the stands palpably. 

East were five meters out with the scrum-put, but a wonky Angels engagement caused a free kick penalty award to the Bear, enabling Springs to clear their lines.

With the sands running fast now Grizzlies lock, Anthony Rose, broke from a maul 30 meters out, and outpaced the chase into goal for a grounding that made the scoreline 25-22 with less than two minutes to go.

Springs were down in Denver territory just outside the 22 meter line, pressing, pushing the pill forward, when Angels managed the turnover, the ball was booted to touch and it was a record of 25-22 for East at Geiger's final whistle.  

Scoring
     
     Angels - Try: Stavropoulus (2), Pulland, Today, Page
     Grizzlies - Try: Grouse, Hayes, Gums, Rose; Con: Rodriguez;


Match Officials: Stu Geiger (Referee); Rey Hernandez, Kayla Wiggin (RAs); Jim Russell (coach)
Referee crew (l to r): Kayla Wiggin, Stu Geiger, and Rey Hernandez 

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