Monday, May 20, 2019

Rugby Colorado State Championship: East v Regis

It was 50⁰, blowy with partial cloud cover for kickoff of the 2019 Rugby Colorado Premier Division State Championship match between reigning champions, Denver East High Angels and reigning runnersup, Regis Jesuit Raiders down the Kettle at Infinity on Saturday last. East had beaten Regis at the opening of the 2019 season in February by a handful, 26-21, and had taken State in 2018 by besting the Raiders, 17-14, in the title match. Angels may have been thinking, “3rd time, charming” but the Jesuit were thinking, “3rd time charm!” - and as it turned out, one was correct.
there's an advantage here

Regis with a considerable advantage of territory and possession in the first half, but a consistently smothering East defense sagged, yet didn’t break and no score in the 20th minute until the Angels right wing struck a sparkling, fast and forceful line along touch for 30 meters well into the Raiders 22 before being brought down by a pair of Jesuit defenders. Ball swung swiftly from breakdown by East scrumhalf, Devon Musselman, and to the East tighthead, “Mr. Bombastic”, who blasted into goal for the converted touch down and tallies of 7 and 0 favoring East, were the significant figures at referee Chris Huff’s halftime signal.
East stoppage

Regis standoff, Eddie Maxfield, pulled a penalty shot across the face of the uprights in the 39th, and action commenced, each XV questioning from breakdown with short stabbing pick-and-goes, slings to the midchannel runners, lookers over the top of the opposition and forays by the outside backs. All for naught until Maxfield broke to space 18 meters from the East goaline and offloaded sweetly to the Raiders own “Mr. Bombastic”, fast-flowing Mariano Adams, and the number 3 crashed over for the touch down that along with the plus-2 from inside center, Gordy McKeehan, made drawn scores at 7s-the-house, three-quarters of the way through the battle.

Denver went ahead on a try by the Angels 18, who snatched the pill from the loose two meters out and dove under and through a pair of would-be stoppers to ground the go-ahead try, subsequently converted, and 14-7 for Angels with 10 minutes to go.
Each and every set piece an intense action

Regis drew level yet again four minutes from time on a grounding by their right wing and its conversion by McKeehan: 14-14 in the 56th minute.

An already raucous affair ratcheted up several notches as each club’s supporters created a combined resonance that was tangible and the players responded with keen deliberation and ferocious determination. 

And it was Denver East, inside the Raiders 22 and on the front foot - a penalty would do it as had happened in the 2018 final - that coughed up the pill and it was “Miraculous” Eddie Maxfield, the Regis 10 who’d kept his mates in the match with magic from hand and foot, who provided the heroics: collecting ball in congestion he stepped to space, and with the Angels three-quarters line committed across the gainline, there was naught but the open highway ahead.

Maxfield was moving at top speed with the paint looming large and an Angel closing fast on his flank scant meters from goal; the East tackler engaged, but Maxfield with a massive effort stretched across the line as he crashed to ground and dotted the decider in as dramatic manner as it gets and with the subsequent conversion by McKeehan, Rugby Colorado had a new Premier Division Champion in Regis Jesuit Raiders at 21 -14 the record.

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