Club Rugby Six-Pack recap - April 15

LAFAYETTE, Colo. - In this week's recap of the Saturday Six-Pack: conference leaders Belmont Shore, Rocky Gorge, and the Toledo Celtics extended their standings leads, while the Denver Barbarians locked up a Frontier playoff spot and teams from Austin, Texas, and Glendale, Colo., split a double-header over the weekend.

Rocky Gorge 40 - 7 Schuylkill River Exiles

Rocky Gorge increased its lead in the Mid-Atlantic Division I standings after beating Schuylkill River, 40-7. The Exiles hung tough with the reigning conference champions for the first 40 minutes, but Rocky Gorge's class and depth off the bench was the difference in the team's 10th bonus-point win of the season.

Rocky Gorge did not do itself any favors by picking up a yellow card early in the fixture. Schuylkill River was quick to put to use its one-man advantage by sending tight head prop Lucas Brickley over the line in the 10th minute. The converted try, however, would be the only points the hosts would tally.

Fly half Ben Cima scored Rocky Gorge's first of six tries in the 27th minute. The young Men's Eagles playmaker's score went unconverted and the Exiles were not far from getting to halftime with a lead. Instead, Rocky Gorge finished the opening half with two quick tries in the closing two minutes, both converted by Nick Kuhl, to race the visitors to a 19-7 advantage at the break.

As they did in the first half, the Exiles stood toe to toe with the Mid-Atlantic leaders for the opening exchanges in the second period. It was not until Schuylkill River was issued a yellow card midway through the half that Rocky Gorge was able to break through the defense. No. 8 Josh Brown scored his 10th try of the season, and reserve Michael Tillman dotted down to push the lead to 33-7. Kuhl capped off an excellent individual performance by converting his own try on the game's final play to give the full back 15 total points in the 40-7 win.

The two teams could be in line for a rematch at the April 29 Mid-Atlantic Conference Semifinals. However, if Schuylkill River bounces back to earn a win or tie against second-place Pittsburgh Harlequins, it could potentially leap the Norfolk Blues for the conference's No. 3 seed in the playoffs and avoid a semifinal matchup with an in-form Rocky Gorge side.

 

Austin Valkyries 19 - 10 Glendale Raptors

The Valkyries needed a grueling 80-minute contest to get themselves ready for the postseason, and that is exactly what they got from their nine-point win over Glendale's D1 side.

The visiting Raptors took a 7-0 lead that looked like would hold until halftime, but hooker Brittany McGhee scored at the end of the period to cut into the lead, 7-5.

Austin managed to hold the Raptors to a single penalty goal in the second half, while producing two tries of its own. First, scrum half Karla Navarrete scored her fourth try in the past three games, but the game was still in the balance until back line reserve Calista Moses made her presence felt by getting over the line late in the match.

 

Glendale Raptors 45 - 13 Austin Huns

The men's side of the Austin-versus-Glendale double-header went the way of the Raptors. Nearly two months after besting the Huns in Colorado, Glendale outscored Austin 35-5 in the second half to earn a two-match sweep of the Red River Conference leaders, 45-13.

The first 40 minutes looked more like the back-and-forth struggle expected out of the two top-flight clubs. After exchanged penalty kicks, the two sides traded tries - Glendale's by way of 12-time capped Eagle Peter Dahl and Austin's from former Raptor Martin Knoetze.

Additional current and former Eagles made their way onto the stat sheet for the Raptors to help the visitors pull away in the second half. Zach Fenoglio, Shaun Davies, Ata Malifa, and Ben Landry, who combine for 30 international caps, each found the try zone in the second half.

Glendale will remain on the road for its next two scheduled friendlies before hosting its final home game of the season Saturday, May 13, against the Life West Gladiators. Austin, meanwhile, must refocus its attention to the Red River competition in a hurry. The Huns currently stake claim as Texas' top club, but perennial contenders Austin Blacks and Dallas Reds are right on their heels.

 

Belmont Shore 67 - 17 Santa Monica Dolphins

Belmont Shore's response to its April 1 defeat to Santa Monica was heard loud and clear throughout Southern California over the weekend. The boys from Long Beach scored the game's first 22 points and never took their foot off of the pedal, slamming its conference rival, 67-17.

Eight different players from Belmont Shore made their way to the try line, including Maze Masoe. The tight head prop, who has split time between Belmont's D1 and D2 sides, collected a hat trick.

To the Dolphins' credit, they hung in the one-way fight until the end, and scored the game's final 10 points. The result had no effect on the Southern California standings, though. Belmont Shore remains in first place, while Santa Monica follows in second place.

 

Toledo Celtics 45 - 19 Detroit Rugby

The Toledo Celtics upheld their undefeated record thanks to a 26-point victory over Detroit Rugby.

Fourteen of Detroit's 19 points came in the first half to keep itself in the ballgame at halftime, 17-14. The match would get out of hand in a hurry, however. The Celtics scored the first 28 points of the second half in a much-improved performance as compared to their one-point win against Detroit in September.

 

Denver Barbarians 50 - 5 Provo Steelers

The Denver Barbarians confirmed their spot in the Frontier Men's Division II Playoffs after dispatching Provo, 50-5.

Former University of Oklahoma standout Michael Al-Jiboori scored his seventh try in four games to initiate the scoring. Man of the Match Ron Tufele, Amani Griffith, and Eric Sykes added tries in the first half. Three other Barbarians dotted down over the second 40 minutes, including fly half Charles Ajarrista who tallied 20 total points in the win.

The April 15 outcome was a far cry from the 40-7 pounding Provo put on Denver in October. Of course, the Barbarians have added a lot of talent since then and have not dropped any of their four outings in 2017. Additionally, Provo's game against Denver was the team's second of the day. Earlier on, the Steelers beat Boulder, 51-29.