Sunday, April 9, 2017

MD2: Glendale v Barbarians

Glendale Raptors v Denver Barbarians

Perfect conditions under occasional overcast down the Kettle for the engagement between league-leading Raptors, owners of undefeated status heading into the contest, and onrushing Barbos, who have burst from a four-team chasing bottleneck to claim second place in the Frontier Conference’s Rocky Mountain Rugby league standings. Glendale had outscored their opposition by better than 37 points per match in the season that began last September, while Denver had counted 110 points-for in its brace of matches since the spring restart last month. Glendale had already taken title on the league this season and sought to maintain its unlost record. Denver would respond to the 7-43 hiding administered by Glendale last fall.

Glendale crisp after receiving kickoff through two phases, then knock-on in the tackle reversed possession. This was to become somewhat of a pattern throughout the contest due the speed and intensity of each XV’s defensive force and form. Each employed the short, punishing pick-and-goes from breakdown subsequent to distribution to their respective midfields and crashing centers. 

The sides were as heavyweights: feinting, jabbing, looking for an opening to apply impact.

Glendale missed a sticksplitter in the 13th minute. Barbarians lock for the ten-minute seat at ’15, and visitors down one player during that interval. Raptors into the Barbarians 22 and down by the business district, ten-meters from goal, but defense adequate to the task of turnover at breakdown and Barbos flyhalf, Chuck Ajarrista, cleared his lines.

Raptors inside center Justin Pauga through a gap made by fast recycle from the breakdown by the home team’s scrumhalf, Wes Laborde, and Pauga was hard into wide open space; offload knocked-on and bullet dodged by the travelers in the 18th minute.

Furious action through the opening three-quarters of the first forty with the sides seeking to establish their respective patterns, but each XV’s defense up to the task of containment, grappling turnover at breakdown and clearance thereafter.

Barbarians back at full strength and fullback, Ryan Walker, on a blazing counter into Raptors territory before offloading to second five-eight, Michael Al-Jiboori, who shoved away a would-be stopper to gain space for his 25-meter scoot into goal and touch down: 5-nil Barbarians in the 32nd minute.

Glendale response was quick: Barbos committed the breakdown penalty, not relaesing the tackled player, 20 meters out from goal and Raptors fullback Derek Smith struck surely the shot on goal. 5-3 for visitors yet at minute 34.

Barbos replied with backrow lock, Jason Christenson, plowing through congestion to space and openside flanker, former CSU standout Evan Geist, abetting the movement into the Glendale 22, but home defense turnover about 10 from their own goal at breakdown and penalty levied upon Barbarians by referee, Steve Gore, enabled home team clearance.

Failure to release the tackled player by Denver five meters from their line meant the choiced scrum, Glendale-put. Couple of re-awards and re-sets before homeboys took the lead on a shot on goal by Smith and 6-5 for Raptors as lads were to lockers following Gore’s halftime signal. Tight tallies at midpoint indicative of intensity expressing itself in fluid continuity disrupted by each XV’s tenacious containment defense.

Home team right on the front foot after restart, marching methodically into the Denver end in brief pick-and-goes and near channel smashes until lightning-fast recycle by Laborde made for a sizable gap in the Barbarians defense out wide. Weak side wing, Nick Johnson, swept in to collect and shoot through that hole swift to dot for five and the Glendale lead extended to half dozen at 11-5 after 43 minutes of action.

Raptors returned for more in the form of a bash to space by Johnson, his fine offload well-taken by Laborde, and subsequent sweet communication to flyhalf Sam Enari had the number ten closing 22 meters quickly for a scoreline of 16-5 in the 47th minute: this one was in danger of coming off the rails for Barbos just now.

Denver penalty award outside the Raptors 22 and the savvy standoff, Ajarrista, quick-tap, slicing to space and just outracing to goal for the corner completion that made it 16-10 and would prove to be the critical turning point in the match at ‘51. For Ajarrista would slot three penalty strikes in the ensuing 15 minutes to give the Barbarians 19-16 advantage by the 71st minute; white-knuckle time just now.

Re-start knocked on by Denver, and Glendale at the Barbarians 22 with the scrum-put. Won and spun, but visitors, who’d executed better at breakdown in the second stanza, turned the pill over. Right now vital possession at the set piece to Denver, clearance thereafter and relief for the time being.

Fast and furious the play now, and Barbarians won-turnover at the Raptors ten-meter line, which led to scrumdown and Barbos put. That set won and spun, Denver advanced to the Glendale 22 in three patiently executed phases. Service to first five-eight, Eric Sykes Jr, who forced space with a fend and eluded a pair of tacklers en route to bouncing off a high tackle to dot; Ajarrista’s additional deuce, and 26-16 for Denver at ’76, that became the result at Gore’s final whistle.


                Glendale – Try: Johnson, Enari; Pen: Smith (2);
                Denver - Try: Al-Jiboori, Ajarrista, Sykes; Con: Ajarrista
                                Pen: Ajarrista (3)

Match Officials: Steve Gore (Referee); Tom Coburn, Mick Ryan (RAs)


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