Sunday, May 14, 2017

Colorado HS Semifinals: East v Jesuit

Rugby Colorado: Semifinals of State, Premier Division

Denver East High Angels v Regis Jesuit Raiders

Warm with a gusting, crossfield blow at Dick’s Rugby Sports Grounds Field #18 for the first Premier Division semifinal that featured last year’s finalists, Angels and Raiders, on Saturday afternoon. Regis were looking to maintain their quest for the Rugby Colorado Premier Division (RCPD) double, while the East Avenging Angels sought redress of last season’s RCDP title match loss, and aimed to book a berth in next week’s championship.

Opening stages saw the Raiders implement the pick-and-go from breakdown in brief gains, while Angels spread the field wide with swift service by scrumhalf Theo Bennett and canny distribution by the pivot, Sam Adix, to his hungry three-quartersline. Adix’ mixture of movements, lengthy skip-passes interspersed with inside switches and querying kicks, meant pulsing pressure constantly as East tested the Jesuit defensive resolve.

Denver opened scoring after their lineout leaper collected ball and Bennett’s sling to Adix was followed by the standoff’s pass, which put streaking fullback Luke Neureiter through the crease for 15 meters and the touch down that, along with wing Max Gottesfeld’s conversion, made it 7-0 in the seventh minute.

East extended the lead to a dozen when backrow lock Kilauea Tora burst into space and Regis territory to set flyer Blake Pullen free for his try in minute 13.

Outside center Holden Kjerland-Nicoletti began and ended the next Angels scoring drive as he broke a tackle at his own ten-meter line on the eastern sideline and set the sweep across the pitch that brought action into the Raiders business district, 10 meters from goal. Possession maintained at breakdown and distribution to Kjerland-Nicoletti, who powered into goal for a 17-0 scoreline after 17 ticks off referee Tom Coburn’s timepiece.

Regis were into East territory with a lineout 30 meters from goal. That set piece won and carried to breakdown, an inside offload proved successful and Raiders were on the march and mauling steady before knock-on at contact reversed possession.

The Jesuit got onboard near time in the half when the Raiders 8man gathered the pill from the loose piece, fended off a would-be stopper, and angled into goal on the arcing sweeper to touch down; 17-5 for Denver East as Coburn whistled up the midpoint break.

Raiders opened the second stanza strong, turning ball over and bringing action to the Denver 22 before a penalty by Angels at breakdown afforded the opportunity for the three-pointer. The Jesuit numbers man struck a shot that drifted wide in the wind.

Angels immediately back on the front foot as the pack took a Jesuit scrum-put against its head and inside center, Yanni Stavropoulos, broke to space and fed Adix, who made 20 meters before offloading to Kjerland-Nicoletti, who finished fifteen fast for five and it was 22-5 seven minutes into the second stanza.

Adix began hoisting the Garryowen and booming the long rangers that the back-three defenders were unable to collect on the fly, which allowed East chasers to contain and win precious front-foot turnover ball inside Regis territory.

The Denver forwards began to establish their presence, poaching a pair of lineouts and shoving the Raiders pack off the ball at the set scrum, winning thrice against the head in the last half.
East advanced over the 50 via a Tora straight slicer to the Raiders 22 before the 8man handed off to Adix, who wove a wavy loping transit to goal and his grounding made it 27-5 in the 15th minute of the second half.

Bit of an aerial battle as lofts between the 22s were gathered and hoisted back and forth. A long range strike by the Jesuit ran to goal and was brought out by Denver for the 22 drop.  East collected that re-start and flyer Pullen was set to burn the touchline for 50 and the corner try that made tallies of 32 and 5 just into the last 10 minutes.

Angels would touch down a last try through Tora, who’d been cracking all day long, and Denver added a final three points by Neureiter with a sticksplitter that made for the result of 40-5 for East at Coburn’s last blast.

               East - Try: Neureiter, Pullen (2), Kjerland-Nicoletti (2), Adix, Tora; Con: Gottesfeld; Pen: Neureiter
               Regis - Try: 8man

Match Officials:  Tom Coburn (Referee); Rey Hernandez, Brighton Khumalo (RAs); Derek Summers (Crew Chief)

in blue (l-r): Coburn, Khumalo and Hernandez; seated: Summers

Denver East High Angels v Monarch Rugby in the premier championship next Saturday, May20, at the Aurora Sports Park

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