Sunday, September 10, 2017

MD-2 Season bangs open at Infinity

Denver Barbarians v Glendale Merlins

Merlins halfback, Carlo De Nysschen, looks to cycle the wonscrum in early action down the Kettle
Warm with hazy clouds and breezes incoming the west at kickoff of the battle between last season's numbers one and two. The Men in Green had beaten the  then-Raptors second division squad last meeting in April by a tenner and would look to improve on that estimable performance in the league opener; the Glendale XV, newly minted as "Merlins", would seek another result altogether.

Field magistrate Stu Geiger whistled the kickoff, Barbos standoff Charles Ajarrista hoisted the high hanger, and it was well and truly game-on as 2017-2018 Rocky Mountain Rugby men's division 2 competition came alive with gusto just beyond Glendale's 10 meter line, each side set to testing the other's defense in punishing probes of their big men from breakdown and zippy, physical challenges by their three-quarters lines.

A Denver lineout was won and spun out wide, but mishandling in the outer regions led to turnover by the swarming Merlins and blindside Marshall Godfrey claimed the pill and the points after touching down for scrumhalf Carlo De Nysschen's conversion: Merlins 7 and Barbos nil, early.

The Barbarians response came swift and surely as Ajarrista put center Michael Al-Jiboori in space at the Glendale 22, employing a wee nifty misdirect back inside for Al-Jiboori to finish fast and touch down; with Ajarrista's plus two we were all level in the 15th minute.

De Nysschen and Ajarrista traded missed penalty attempts and Godfrey went to the bin for a tip tackle, then Denver used the one-man advantage to employ the Ajarrista-Al-Jiboori connection to loose flyer, Antwun Baker, to close for his try. Another deuce from Ajarrista and the Barbo had their first lead of the match at 14-7 at the 36th minute.

Short-handed Merlins drew level at the last of the half as wing, Harley Davidson, fought well and bravely through the final two meters to ground, along with De Nysschen's completion, the leveler and 14-for-the-house as Geiger sounded the midpoint blast and it was lads to lockers for hydration, instruction and inspiration.  Barbarians went ahead on their ability to capitalize the one-man advantage, yet were unable to maintain that  edge as Merlins magic enabled the halftime knot.

De Nysschen edged Glendale in front with a sticksplitter at 50': 17-14 for Merlins now.

Barbarians back on top after Baker made the corner inside his own half and blistered the sideline to try for Ajarrista's conversion and 21-17 for Denver just now at 55 minutes.

Denver would stretch their lead beyond the magical 8 (or two scores) when backrow lock Jason Christensen picked up from the wonscrum five meters out and blasted his way to goal for five and 26-17 Barbos at minute number 64.

Glendale were a bit eager and offside to the gainline for Geiger's liking and the penalty and Ajarrista's ensuing touchkick had Barbos 12 meters out from Glendale's Promised Land with the lineout throw. Snagged and distributed along the dangerous Denver three-quarters line and Denver halfback, Carmine Hernandez made to space inside the Glendale 22 and then to goal to ground; Ajarrista popped two more through the uprights and Barbarians were up comfortably, 33-17, near time.

Merlins had magic left though, as inside center, Dennis Papike, from the pivot behind the scrum, put a looker over the Barbo defense for his own collection and  Nick Boyer's conversion; 33-24 now yet for the Barbos, but in the 76th minute one might think... fantastic finish? 

Not to be, as Ajarrista, cleaved the posts for another trio of points and a record of 36-24 for Barbarians was recorded at Geiger's last blast.

             Merlins - Try: Godfrey, Davidson, Papike; Con: De Nysschen  (2), Boyer; Pen: De Nysschen;
             Barbarians - Try: Al-Jiboori, Baker (2), Christensen, Hernandez; Con: Ajarrista (4); Pen: Ajarrista

Match Officials: Stu Geiger (Referee); Paul Knowles, Brian Zapp (RAs)

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