Sunday, May 22, 2016

Rugby Colorado: Grizzlies v Sarries

Rugby Colorado High School High School Boys Championships: 3rd Place, D1 – Springs v Sarries

North Stadium in Westminster was the site of the highest age-grade sport in Colorado yesterday as finals of division-1, division-2, and the 3rd place match for division-1 provided a splendid forum for rugby expression on the day. Every match was well-contested with the first division matches going to the wire, each winner claiming victory at the death, and the second division title being decided by a five-point margin.

Colorado Springs Grizzlies v Aurora Saracens

The curtain-raiser was a dandy! Warm with temps above 80 and a swirling wind for the blinder that featured 10 trys in all, six lead changes (three in either half) and a one-point result.

Aurora began the match with a complement of 14-players, but tight pick-and-go work from breakdown and near channel industry kept them in possession and on the front leg initially. Grizzlies turned ball over just inside their opponent’s half and 8man Nicholas Warman scooped ball off the deck, fended his way to space and shed a tackler en route to the opening grounding converted by fullback Cal Robeson and it was 7-nil for the Springs, eight minutes into it.

Aurora responded seven minutes on with their own backrow lock, Steve Fifita, rumbling powerful into goal to touch down and 7-5 for Springs yet.
critical contact

Scrumhalf Sel Funaki put Sarries in front after a storming scurry along touch, breaking out of tackles for 30 meters, the corner touch down and a 10-7 Aurora advantage in the 20th minute.

Grizzlies second row lock, Anthony Rosa, enabled the next lead change after twisting from stoppage into space, twirling out of contact and slicing into goal for 22 meters and the grounding that made it 14-10 for Colorado Springs with Robeson’s conversion after 25 minutes.

Ball retention superb and smooth, savvy offloads brought Sarries into the Springs end where flyhalf and USA Men’s Junior All-American, Will Fifita, banged to space and finished 30 meters strong and swift; conversion by Elijah Tchilembe-Mpovie, and 17-14 for Saracens in the 27th minute.

8man, Steve Fifita, got his brace in the 29th minute for the final try of the opening stanza, and 22-14 for Aurora as referee Chris Huff sounded the signal for the break and it was lads to lockers for hydration and instruction.

Saracens power and pace too much for Grizzlies in the final five minutes of the period; the Colorado Springs squad would have to fine-tune their tackling to realize joy at the end of this day.

Saracens added a late arrival at break, bringing them to 15-men on the pitch for the second stanza, but it was the Springs who’d get the initial numbers of the half with Robeson punishing Aurora imprudence with a pair of penalty strikes and the scoreline became 22-20 as the Bear chipped away at the Saracens lead in the first ten minutes of the period.

Aurora widened their margin when inside center Inoke Makoni poached a pass at midfield and outraced the chase for a 29-20 Corsair lead after Tchilembe-Mpovie's additional deuce in the 12 minute of the last half.

Grizzlies back into it with determination as multiple-phasework inside the Sarries 22 led to tighthead prop Marciano Martinez’ crossing to ground for Robeson’s plus two: 29-27 midway through the second stanza of an epic battle.

Grizzlies would regain the lead after touch down by blindside flanker, Jorge Meza, and it was 32-29 with half dozen ticks left.

Sarries replied and snatched the advantage after a concerted bit of pick-and-goes brought them well into the Springs business district and sophomore sensation, Lei Olevai, dove into goal for the grounding and a 34-32 Saracens scoreline with two minutes to go.

Aurora was undone by indiscipline at the death as penalty assessed at breakdown enabled a last sticksplitter from Robeson and a record of 35-34 at Huff’s last blast.

            Aurora – Try: S Fifita (2), Funaki, W Fifita, Makoni, Olevai; Con: Tchilembe-Mpovie (2);
            Colorado Springs – Try: Warman, Rosa, Martinez, Meza; Con: Robeson (3); Pen: Robeson (3)
Match Official: Chris Huff (Referee); Karen Fong-Donoghue, Owen Luscombe (RAs); Tom Coburn (Coach)

Division 2 recap and Division 1 match report to follow…


  1. The conversions for Aurora were taken by Elijah Tchilembe-Mpovie who was 2/4 and Tevita Sanft who was 0/2

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