Sunday, April 21, 2019

Boulder Rugby v Denver Highlanders

Boulder Rugby v Denver Highlanders
Boulder leaper goes high for lineout ball

Overcast burning off and temps in the low 70s for the Boulder Rugby v Denver Highlanders contest at the organic PleasantView Rectangular Rugby Stadium. The outcome of the match would determine Park City Haggis’ competition in Grand Junction next RugbyDay for the Rocky Mountain Rugby Men’s Division-2 league title. America’s Most Wonderful Rugby Meal are top of the heap now as they’ve already completed their 2018-2019 campaign. Boulder would have to win the upcomer, and with the bonus-point - four trys or better - to reserve a berth in the RMR Championship fixture next weekend and deny reigning national champions, Denver Barbarians, that opportunity.

Highlanders got up and after it swiftly with significant stoppage by outside center, Aaron Osheroff, and the subsequent turnover at breakdown, putting visitors on the front foot for the moment. Half dozen phases later and travelers had turned ball over themselves on a handling error out wide.

Boulder set up in Highlanders territory for an extended period with scrumhalf, Sean Kilfoyle, organizing the action in a canny mix of pick-and-go stabbers and near channel cutters, and Boulder worked patiently into the Denver business district, ten meters from goal. Staunch and steadfast the Highlanders defense, forcing the knock-on followed by clearance for touch by flyhalf Peter Gray. Boulder remained on their adversary’s half of the pitch, aided by a number of penalties at and about the tackle, however, and in the 10th minute Boulder 10, Colin Johnson, snatched the ball from the loose, scant meters from goal, sliced into that Promised Land, and touched down for the opening try-converted by Kilfoyle, and 7-nil homeys right then.

Home team got another after fullback, Jake Shomer, fended away contact at Highlanders ten-meter line and raced 40 for the score; plus-two by Kilfoyle and 14-0 at minute 16.

Boulder were forcing Highlanders to commit more men to the tackle, making millimeters over the gainline and keeping the Denver defense on an unsteady rear leg, while Highlanders were experiencing difficulty maintaining possession due handling and passing issues.

Tallies were run to 21 and 0 in the 25th minute when Kilfoyle snatched the pill from three meters out and scampered across to try, and Boulder had the match well in hand, seeking the bonus-point just then.

Denver rose to the challenge, obtaining turnover and rolling into the Boulder 22 with movement from their maul aided by penetrating pick-and-goes from breakdown until backrow lock, Derek Smith, collected the pill inside five meters and blasted into goal for grounding: 21-5 at the 30th.

Bonus-point achieved just before time in the half as Boulder 8man, Andy Birch, burst the line at the Denver 22, making fast tracks, before dishing perfectly to openside, Elliot Barker, who closed for Kilfoyle’s conversion and it was 28-5 in the 38th.
Smith to Highlanders 9, Josh Slater, working the weakside

A knock-on fielding the restart saw Highlanders with the set piece five meters out from the Boulder goal. Penalty awarded for front row infraction and quickly-tapped service to swiftly moving loosehead prop, Jeff Westbrook, and the number one banged into goal for touch down converted by 10, Peter Gray, and 28-12 for the home team at the ensuing halftime signal from referee, Brian Kelly.

Chances for Denver squandered by poor handling, while territory and possession favored the hosts, who made significance of that stat. Boulder’s straight-center rumbles from breakdown interspersed with delivery to the near channel stampeders the home side’s meat and tatties. Highlanders keenly exploitive at times, wasteful with knock-ons at others.

Energy level seemed a bit more intense at the outset of the second stanza with much action between the 22s until Highlanders second row, Will Howard, broke through a crease in the Boulder line and fired up unexpected afterburners, speeding through 50 meters to goal for the grounding that brought scores to 28 and 17 in the 50th,  and one would have thought, “hmmmn...?” at that time.

A deliberate frenzy descended on the paddock for the next 15 minutes as forwards fought for possession in heated exchange at tackle and three-quarters strove to fabricate the overlap and misdirected advantage.
Boulder with the lineout take, 10 meters out
It was Boulder that hit their mark, with first five-eighths, Zach Savage breaking to space at midfield, feeding flyhalf Johnson to finish and with Kilfoyle’s additional deuce, 35-17 after 66 ticks.

Boulder would ground a brace of further trys through 7s star, Odell Beckham, on a flipper-assisted cutter, and a pack try mauled to goal at time for a result of 47-17 at Kelly’s terminal tweet.

               Boulder - Try: Johnson (2), Shomer, Kilfoyle, Barker, Beckham, Pack; Con: Kilfoyle (6);

               Denver - Try: Smith, Westbrook, Howard; Con: Gray

Match Officials:  Brian Kelly (Referee); Chris Brewer, Andy Zahl (RAs)

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