Sunday, September 24, 2017

RMR: MD-2 - 'Landers v 'Quins

Highlanders v Harlequins
Highlanders halfback, Zach Dickerson*, prepares the distribution 

Newly-promoted Denver Highlanders announced their return to the Rocky Mountain Rugby (RMR) men’s division 2 table in large fashion, blanking their down-street rivals, Denver Harlequins, in consummate fashion at Francis Jacobs Memorial Rugby Grounds on Saturday. Highlanders had ruled RMR men’s division 3 the past three years earning top honors in that league each season, while Harlequins had failed to place in the upper competition though ‘Quins are ever the dangerous opponent.

Cool and overcast with rain threatening from the west at kickoff in Round 1 of the league’s six Battles for Denver fought between a trio of Denver clubs: Highlanders, Harlequins and Barbarians; Barbo’ were idle this weekend. 

Homeboys hoisted the high hanger at referee Steve Gore’s starting whistle and the turnover at breakdown had Highlanders inside ‘Quins ten-meter line probing in multiple phases down to the 22. Harlequins snared the interception in the midfield and now Highlanders backed onto the rear leg and guests streamed upfield and into ‘Landers territory only to turn the pill over with a knock-on.

The home XV backline were making the  gainline plus, but Highlanders failure to release – both ball at tackle on offense and the tackled player while defending – resulted in a pair of penalties that enabled the visitors to keep pressure on in the early stages of the contest.

Harlequins popped a looker into the box that ran far, but was gathered by Highlanders 15, Brian Dutill, and the blistering counter ran into ‘Quin territory before the offload to Pinnick allowed for the flyer’s close and a 5-nil lead for the hosts in the 13th minute.

Highlanders straight back for more after receiving the re-start as inside center Ahron Osheroff put outside center Matt Soderman in space to finish for five and second row Sean Welfare’s conversion: 12-0 after 17 minutes. Home team looking sharp and hungry right now; travelers appearing a bit disheveled and out of step midway through the first forty minutes of action.

Highlanders would stretch their lead to 19 before the half as Pinnick got his brace and Welfare, his second completion. More possession in favorable territory earned by their forwards industry at both the set piece and the breakdown for Highlanders cause for joy for the homeside; a good deal of possession for Harlequins as well, but handling errors in their vaunted three-quarters line made for possession exchange and consternation, much to Highlanders benefit. 19-0 for the home team as Gore sounded the halftime break.

The second stanza mirrored the initial verses with Osheroff, Dutill, 8man Josh Slater and loosehead Cortez Rangel grounding for Highlanders, all made seven by Welfare for a 47-0 result at Gore’s last blast.

              Highlanders – Try: Pinnick (2), Soderman, Osheroff, Dutill, Slater, Rangel; Con: Welfare (6)

Match Official: Steve Gore

Next up on Saturday, 9.30:
              Glendale Merlins v Denver Highlanders at Infinity, noon boot;

              Boulder Rugby v Denver Barbarians at PleasantView, noon;

* Dickerson, a Rugby Colorado (SWARM) and Regis University product, is our Man of the Match. Highlanders three-quartersline were prolific in action, but they'll not see that play if their #9's delivery is not constant, consistent and precise; Zach's was all three, all day

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