Sunday, October 9, 2016

MD-3: Denver Highlanders v Queen City Rams


Highlanders halfback, Zach Dickerson, preparing to provide the pill

Denver Highlanders v Queen City Rams

Warm and Sunny on the RugbyDay at the Jake for the derby between the first-placed ‘Landers and the team what would be. Each XV were looking to claim head of the class in demonstrative fashion. One side did.

A bit of early fractivity well-settled by field magistrate Aaron Yappert and it was high energy, balls-out footie from then on with a Cityboy in the bin at the 6th minute.  Penalty awarded to the home team and flyhalf Adam Price’s subsequent loft to touch had Highlanders into their opponent’s territory with a lineout; that won and spun and after four, powerfully pounded penetrations from breakdown deep into City’s 22, backrow lock Josh Slater broke over goal to touch down the first points of the match. 
Conversion by the home team’s talismanic standoff, Adam Price, and it was 7-nil homeboys in the 9th minute.

Price, the Highlanders numbers guy, made more at the 18th minute: quick service by scrumhalf Zach Dickerson had Price attended by a bevy of defenders just shy of goal, but the robust pivot was able to fight free the stoppers to cross-and-ground, and it was 12-0 homeys after 18 minutes.

Rams got on the board with a penalty goal struck from in front of the sticks, inside the 22 by their outside center, and it was 12-3 after 20 minutes off Yappert’s chronometer.

Queen City’s strategy of deep territory-seeking kicks was becoming undone by both the sparkling counters of Highlanders fullback Kyle Gross and the numbers, speed and purpose that Denver brought to the breakdown.

Price pegged a second penalty goal from just inside the 10-meter line through the posts and it was 15-3 at minute 33.

Mr. Price stretched the advantage with a sticksplitter just before the half and it was lads to lockers for hydration and instruction with the tallies at 18 and 3 at Yappert’s signal.

Both sides were making errors, but the home team’s ability to capitalize on those minor and major misdeeds in a more productive way made the difference in the first forty; quicker, slicker recycling by Dickerson, effective kicking by Price and surety at the offloading by the forwards in the near channels was keeping Rams on their rear leg, the Highlanders, happily hungry.

City earned the initial numbers of the second stanza by penalty conversion of their outside center from 30 meters out on the left post and 18-6 in the 46th minute.

Price sustained injury at ’48 and was forced off the pitch by that damage, and the Highlanders backline dynamic would change with Gross moving to #10, flyer Pinnick Brooks shifting to #15 and Rocco Petramala covering Brooks’ spot. Would the home team falter with its numbers man gone?

Well, initially, yes as Rams fullback returned a punt that hadn’t found touch 50 meters on a shifting weave line along the northside touchline to ground in the corner and City had drawn within a converted goal at 18-11 after 50 minutes of action.

But Highlanders settled into their new alignment, putting lock Nic Rangel and veteran Jeff Westbrook into the Promised Land for their touch downs that - with one converted by engine Sean Welfare (Fort Collins High School and CSU Rams RFCs and scion of the great Welfare rugby clan) – the scoreline became 30-11 by the hour mark.

A brace of more scores by the host through hooker, Scott Crapo, and openside flanker Derek Smith, against a second swervy, jinky return by the City fullback for a try, and a result of 44-16 was recorded at Yappert’s last blast.

                Highlanders – Try: Slater, Price, Rangel, Westbrook, Crapo, Smith; Con: Price (2), Welfare (2); Pen: Price (2);
                Rams – Try: #15 (2); Pen: #13 (2)

Match Officials: Aaron Yappert (Referee); Paul Johnson, Marc Nelson (RAs)

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