Written by Bernie Decker
Friday, 11 May 2012 09:56
Colorado Springs Claims 4th Title in 5 Years
School Age -
Cherry Creek and Colorado Springs met Wednesday at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. for the Rugby Colorado State Championship.
The upstart Bruins, riding a single-loss promotion season on the wily grit of captain Ben Pinkleman’s forwards and the constant attention of inside center Hayden Teehan’s backline, faced off against the winners of three out of the last four state rugby titles, Colorado Springs Grizzlies, who featured a tight backline and loose, rangy forwards.
Creek jumped ahead directly after kickoff with a Teehan penalty kick in the opening minute.
Colorado Springs leveled things with a penalty of their own courtesy of right wing Nathan Fletcher. 3-3 three minutes in.
From the 22-meter line outside the left post, Fletcher edged his side in front with another penalty goal after a flashy 50-meter scoot by halfback Alex Markowski led to breakdown and a penalty assessed against Creek for hands-in.
The Grizzlies were back on the front foot after inside center Chris Kunkle gathered flyhalf Michael Black’s high kick from his 10-meter line, but a fumble reversed possession. The Bruins won their own scrum, nut a short clearance had Grizzlies pressuring hard. Black quick-tapped a penalty darted into the corner for the match’s first touch down to give Colorado Springs an 11-3 lead in the 12th minute.
Black started the next scoring drive with a quickly tapped penalty and an incisive 20-meter scamper into Creek territory. The Grizzlies mauled into the Bruins goal but were held up. Springs won the ensuing scrum and lock Jacob Russell snatched the ball from the loose and shot into goal from the loose for a 16-3 lead in the 23rd minute.
The Grizzlies piled on one more try in the opening half when a mishandled pass in Creek’s backline had outside center Jim Kenney scoop up the ball and race 30 meters to pay dirt. Fletcher’s conversion made it 23-3 at halftime in favor of Colorado Springs.
Springs continued to pour it on, adding tries from fullback Luke Divich and wing Liam Wynne to extend their lead to 35-3 in the second half. Pinkelman salvaged some pride for Cherry Creek with a try in the final goings, but Colorado Springs claimed their fourth state title in five years.
“It’s a State Final game and clearly the nerves were running on high octane for a few of the boys. We have some positive things to work on over the next 7 days before Nationals,” said Colorado Springs coach John Paterson.
“Cherry Creek have put a good program together and we needed this level of opposition to better gauge our boys individual and team performance. We are naturally proud of our guys, but especially the forwards, as most of the pack just picked a rugby ball up 12 weeks ago.”
Cherry Creek Bruins 8
Colorado Springs Grizzlies 35
Tries: Black, Russell, Kenney, Divich, Wynne
Cons: Fletcher (2)
Pen: Fletcher (2)
Match Official: Kurt Weaver