Sunday, May 6, 2018

RMR MD-2 Playoff: Denver Barbarians v St. Louis Royals

Denver Barbarians and St. Louis Royals battled on the StoveTop at Infinity yesterday for the right to represent our Frontier Geographic Union (GU) at the West RFU Territorial Championships next week at Fort Worth in a lively, 13-try fest that provided supporters strung along touch and on the East Terrace with a physical, entertaining display of sport. Denver had run the Rocky Mountain Rugby Conference league table, collecting all possible match points in their perfect, 10-0-0, 50-point season; St. Louis, too, had completed an undefeated campaign in their Mid-America Rugby Conference with all but 2 match points earned.

Sunny and warm with a temperature of 76 degrees for kickoff as St. Louis Royals flyhalf, Lungile Tshuma, lofted the drop high into the bright, Colorado sky and it was game on for Frontier gold. 
Barbarians fielded well, carrying to breakdown, steady and patiently working the pill in short, stabbing pick-and-goes from break down and sharp incisions from the near-channel runners. Royals pinged for laying about and Denver’s flyhalf, Charles Ajarrista, made short work putting Barbarians onboard with a sticksplitter from 30 meters out and it was 3-nil Denver in the second minute.

St. Louis replied emphatically after a Denver infraction turned ball over, and from breakdown inclose sent backrow lock Brian Moylett crashing through Barbarians defenders and across the paint to touch down the match’s first try: conversion by Tshuma and Royals ahead now in the eighth minute, 7-3.
Royals backthree forwards, especially openside Dan McGee, ranging the pitch with intent, keen for engagement, while Barbarians tighthead, Soane Leger, and #7, Estevan Crispin, made hard yards forward each time they carried.

Denver reclaimed the lead on a grounding by loosehead Eric Myers and its completion by Ajarrista in the 16th minute: 10-7 Barbos just then.
Collection of the restart bobbled forward by a Barbo had Royals with scrum-put at midfield. That won, Royals pack employed the pick-and-go to perfection making progress and keeping Denver unsteady on the rear foot. Barbarians infraction for hands-in and Tshuma’s 23rd minute penalty strike from 22 meters out and drawn scores at 10-for-all.

Barbarians grabbed the lead when outside center Michael Al-Jiboori broke to space 25 meters from goal and outpaced the chase to touch down for Ajarrista’s additional deuce, and 17-10 Denver, 26 minutes into it.

Lungile notched a second penalty at the 31st minute and tallies of 17 and 13 for Denver then. Barbarians discipline affronts were aiding their opponents cause unseemly.

Denver had the final shout of the first forty, as ball swiftly spun from breakdown by scrumhalf Carmine Hernandez unleashed flyer Eric Sykes Jr. for the corner score and it was lads to the sheds for hydration and instruction at Geiger’s 40-minute signal and a scoreline of Denver 22, St. Louis 13.

Barbarians mean, green defensive alignment the difference in the opening half; save for Moylett’s power burst and touch down in the early innings, Denver’s D effective and offensively tackling for turnovers. St Louis were successful in countering from their backthree backs, but were undone, on occasion, by an inability to maintain the handle on the pill.

The match ignited for Denver in a 10-minute span in the final forty with trys by Sykes Jr. (’46), front row Eric Bloedorn (’52) and blindside Brendan Shea (’46), and Barbarians opened up a 26-point advantage at 39-13 heading toward the hour mark.

Tshuma dotted in the 62nd minute at the end of a dodging, elusive scoot and with his own conversion, 39-20 then.

But the Barbarians put the match away with a trio of groundings by: Sykes Jr. in the 65th minute for his hat-trick; a try by the ubiquitous Hernandez, who seemed everywhere all day long; and a gem by engine roomee, Michael Pisney – with Ajarrista converting a single, 56-20 the significant figures at minute 73.

Royals would have a last brace of scores through inside center Rory Cunningham and replacement David Stewart for a record of 56-30 at Geiger’s last blast.


Denver – Try: Myers, Al-Jiboori, Sykes (3) Bloedorn, Shea, Pisney, Hernandez; Con:                                                 Ajarrista (3); Pen: Ajarrista ;
St. Louis – Try: Moylett, Tshuma, Cunningham, Stewart; Con: Tshuma (2); Pen: Tshuma (2)

Match Officials: Stu Geiger (referee); Marc Nelson (ra)    

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