Sunday, August 25, 2019

RMR MD3 Opening Day: Quins v Jacks

Denver Harlequins v Laramie Lumberjacks

Warm and a tad humid for kickoff of 2019/2020 Rocky Mountain Rugby Men’s Division-3; Quins and Jacks got after the pill in a big way at the Denver Cook Park’s, Cooker Rugby Grounds. Early season jitters aside, this was an epic beginning to the year as ten trys tallied between the XVs were split evenly and the difference being a penalty struck in the starting stages.   

Harlequins were on the march from the initiating drop’s reception, setting up multiple phases, picking and going from breakdown, grinding a path upfield in short, intentional jabs by their forwards into Lumberjack territory. Home team knock-on in their midfield provided for clearance and a Harlequins lineout. That set piece won, two phases forward and penalty awarded for failure to release the tackled player on the left post just outside the 22 was potted by Denver 10, Steve Zaugg, and Quins were up 3-nil after six minutes.

Bashes and big bangs from both sides, but no further scoring as field magistrate, John Kenney, called for a hydro-break in the 20th with each side holding its lines grimly.

Travelers having difficulty maintaining possession, at times, while one could tell their talented three-quarters were chafing at the bit.

Harlequins pressuring immediately after re-start with ball being shifted to the backline now and second man through creased the Jacks defense to ground for Zaugg’s additional deuce and 10-0 after ’25.

Laramie possession squandered by a sling beyond the wing into touch, but turnover enabled progress in bruising fits and starts from stoppage down into the home team’s 22 and further to their business district, 10 meters from goal, where an attacking scrum had Lumberjacks on the heavy-metal front foot. That piece won and spun swiftly to a deceptively shifty second five-eighths, Bobby Watkins, who proved elusive, wending his way through the Denver line to touch down for a scoreline of 10-5, yet in homeboys favor, in the 29th minute.

Jacks would claim the lead at time in the half with another scrum-put, six meters from the Harlequins goaline, taken and shifted quickly to first five-eighths, Nela Lolohea, whose line break into the Promised Land straight through a drawn d-line made his grounding, conversion by flyer Clinton Page, and tallies of 12 and 10 for Laramie Lumberjacks at Kenney’s halftime signal.

Good grade of play from both in the three-try, first 40. Harlequins were making headway in rambling bangers from breakdown and some canny string-pulling from Zaugg, while Jacks three-quarters line showing explosive potential, especially in their centers.
Laramie counted the first score of the second stanza as engine roomee, José Stradley, pounded across to touch down for Page’s plus-two and 19-10 for visitors at ’47.

Recycle shifted quickly but errantly skimmed along the ground at speed before sublime pickup by Lumberjacks 15, Chris Waldron, and the fullback sped 20 meters unscathed for a try and with Page’s added completion, 26-10 just then, ten minutes into the last half. Quins at sixes, sevens, heavy on the rear-leg and down by three scores.

Harlequins returned and a well-executed cutter for 40 meters threaded a winding line to goal for a try and Zaugg’s plus-two and home side lively now with 26-17 and ’54 being the significant figures.

Laramie made their advantage double-digits on a power-run and grounding by Lolohea for his brace, and 31-17, just on the far side of the hour mark.

An inclose penalty play by Harlequins resulted in a maul-to-goal and dropdown pack try, converted by Zaugg: 31-24 in the 68th.

A splendid communication and close by Quins fullback, Mike Boyle, made easy-peasy conversion by Zaugg and everyone had 31 with ten minutes left on Kenney’s ticker.

Hard and harsh the last from 70 minutes onward with each side striving mightily to break the deadlock. And it was homeboys, in the third minute of injury time, who touched down the decider for massive 36-31, come-from-behind, victory.

                Harlequins - Try: (2nd man thru, 40-meter cutter, Pack, Boyle (2)); Con: Zaugg (4); Pen: Zaugg;
                Lumberjacks - Try: Watkins, Lolohea (2), Stradley, Waldron; Con: Page (3)

Match Official: John Kenney

Wyoming and Lumberjack rugby is a Harris family affair with father Eric #6, son Cameron #4 and daughter Haley, for the UWyo Women

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