Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Colorado High School Championships and EuroPro Playoffs

Rugby Colorado High School Championships

Premier Division – the 2017 title match pits multi-year winners, Denver East High Angels, against relative newcomer, Monarch Rugby, on Saturday May 20 at North Stadium. In their 30-year history, the Angels have won the championship five times, most recently in 2015, while Monarch have not taken the title once and are new to Rugby Colorado Premier Division, having been promoted this season to the top flight.

Both XVs were in the finals of their respective divisions in 2016, East dropping a heartbreaker on the last play of the match to Regis and Monarch beaten by Terrors; and both obtained a measure of satisfaction, one should think, by topping last year’s nemeses in their respective semifinal matches.
Each team’s cumulative margin of victory during league play over the 2017 semifinal field (Palmer Terrors and Regis Raiders) were 12 points, East having lost to Terrors on the trot and Monarch losing to East at home.

Monarch exemplifies the basics, fitness and fundamentals, which manifests in direct go-forward pick-and-marches from breakdown interspersed with near-channel queries from its midfield. Denver East, meanwhile, expresses the rugby with a bit more flair, combining halfback misdirectives with electric service from the in-half to spread the field for incursive action by its dangerous and talented three-quartersline.

To say this one is too close to call would be a grievous understatement, so you must come out and spectate to view the finest emergent men’s clubside competition North of the Pecos and West of the Mississippi – be there, Saturday at 6pm, North Stadium on the top end of the Denver Metroplex.

Premier Championship will be preceded by:

·        Division 2 Championship - Arapahoe Warriors v Dakota Ridge Eagles, 4:30pm;
       Premier Division 3rd place – Palmer High Terrors v Regis Jesuit Raiders, 3:15pm;

·        Division 2, 3rd place – Boulder Rugby v Northside Dragons, 2pm

EPCR Champions Cup Final, 5.13.17: Clermont v Saracens

Saracens ran out to a 12-nil advantage just after the midpoint of the first forty on trys by flyer Chris Ashton and second row George Kruis, the latter converted by 13-point (2-cs, 3ps) Owen Farrell, to record the Champions Cup Double. No stroll down the esplanade for the Anglos at Murrayfield though, as a grounding by Clermont Auvergne inside center Rémi Lamerat in the 26th minute, and its conversion by scrumhalf Morgan Parra, made for a 12-7 scoreline at referee Nigel Owens’ halftime signal.

Farrell’s first penalty goal of the evening, followed by a dot by the French XV’s flying Englishman, Nick Abendanon, made seven by Parra, had the tallies at 15 and 14 yet to Saracens by minute 53; penalties exchanged for a score of 18-17 Sarries by the 70th minute, but 10 points by Saracens in the final 10 minutes meant a record of 28-17 and the European Double for Mark McCall’s mixers in Edinburg, Scotland.  

Aviva Premiership * semifinals *

Exeter Chiefs v Saracens (5.20.17) – Saracens tuned up Chiefs last September at Sandy Park in league play, but the sides drew at the beginning of this year, 13-all. However, Sarries were without Owen Farrell and a 15th player in the tie after they lost a man to a red card in the 10th minute of the match. Saracens easily on Saturday, 35-14.

Wasps v Leicester Tigers (5.20.17) – this is promoted as Australian Wallaby Kurtley Beale’s final run of play in the Northern Hemisphere as he’s expected back down under for Super Rugby action next year. Beale will have a try at his national side once more as well. Tigers have had a fine handful of match results to finish their season, with four wins and a loss, though the wins were against clubs from the bottom of the table and the loss came against Bath Rugby, whose final position in the AP league was right on the Leicester hind. This’ll be a cracker with Tigers upsetting the table-toppers, 21-20.

French Top 14 (Orange) * semifinals *

Toulon v Castres (5.19.17) – homeboys had best win or owner, “Mad Mourad” Boudjellal, will be way beside himself. The clubs split their league fixtures, each winning at home. Toulon are chockful of marquee players and should triumph to keep their fricative proprietor one happy chappy. Toulon, 25-21.

Montpellier v Racing 92 (5.20.17) – these competitors, too, split their matches with each winning at home. Going to be a difficult ask for the defending champions to win on the trot, but with the likes of Dan Carter pulling the strings behind his forward pack, that upset is a distinct possibility. t-c, t-c

Guinness Pro12 *semifinals *

Leinster v Scarlets (5.19.17) - the Irish are working a full head of steam despite dropping their final match of the season. Scarlets are on a fine run of joys, but it’ll be happiness for the home crowd at the RDS at the end of this day’s fiery match. Leinster, 42-20.

Munster v Ospreys (5.20.17) – Munster get the wins when they need it; Ospreys have lost four from five of their final handful of fixtures. Thomond Park will resound with the Irish Province’s victory this day. Munster, 32-10.

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