The University of Denver Pioneers traveled across town to Golden to take a shot at second spot in their Division II table Saturday, and sort they did, coming away with a 21-17 victory in an action-packed match under blustery Chinook winds that saw the hosts pressuring hard at the whistle, yet the visitors’ defense able to hold their lines. DU claimed the win as well as second place for the time being as rugby competition has ended for the ERRFU union until February, 2012.
Mines jumped out to an early lead with a balanced mix of forward and back work that had them pressuring within ten meters of DU’s goaline early on. Flanker Josh Geist scooped ball from the loose, and angled fast into the try zone to score in the corner a goal completed through gusty windswirl by standoff Alex Corey with four minutes gone.
Denver drew even five minutes on after a hard forward rush inside Mines 22 put their hosts at sixes and sevens with the sly pill jouncing maddeningly about ‘neath the sticks until DU’s #10, Joe Parker, settled things well with the touch down. With his own conversion the numbers were leveled, the boys got down to it and the testy breeze increased a notch.
The following twenty were characterized by crowd-pleasing and wind-assisted kick-catch-and-counters abetted by pummeling packwork from each side at the breakdowns which kept play largely within the 22s.
Slick work by their inside backs had DU’s maul just inside Mines 22, surging and crabbing until backrow Trevor Hanson burst from the loose and across the line to dot down. Parker’s deadly afterstroke made it 14-7 travellers 31 minutes into it.
A Corey penalty goal 30 meters out from the left stick after DU were judged to have failed to release at tackle made it 14-10 before the midpoint whistle and the sides took a break with the wind providing background melody to the coaches’ halftime chats.
Brisk offense by both sides, answered by consummate defense, kept things lively until a fulsome DU backline movement into Mines territory put #11 Gabe Bram away to finish with a jinky little 10 meter dash that facilitated his grounding by the posts. Parker’s conversion put a bit of comfort ‘twixt the numbers for DU as it became 21-10 and the Miners sought to regroup.
A spirited, 40 meter scamper along far touch by senior captain and #9 Andy Maul, who’ll be taking the pitch for HARC down in Texas next fall, had the home side closeby DU’s goal when a repetitive infringement by the Pioneers in defense caused yellow to be shown and DU faced the penalty on their try line at one man disadvantage.
After several banging phases at the doorstep, fetcher Sidney Mahanay claimed ball and sliced into goal to touch down. With Corey’s conversion in the 62nd minute, the Miners were four points adrift and the cold wind seemed to lose a wee bit o’ bite.
But that was to be the last tally as replacements were brought in and though each side switched up their offensive schemes fluidly, the counter defenses at each end were defiant and deniant, and a final of University of Denver 21, Colorado School of Mines 17 was recorded.
Of note: DU crossed into CSM’s try zone seven times yet were able to ground just thrice, a closure rate head coach Allan Wilson intends his charges remedy as they prepare for spring, 2012: “There were four additional opportunities that were called back for being held up. We'll be working on technique there in the upcoming week,” he said and he added, “We like playing Mines. Always a tough fought competition. We were good on defense today and the defensive effort made the difference in the game, and I was pleased with our effect at the breakdown. “
Great support work by both squads on either side of the ball, and pinpoint lineout tosses by hookers Ben Brandon (DU) and Chris Fleischauer (Mines), despite a demonically gusting wind, made for a pleasing gameflow as evidenced by random commentary overheard from some of the 300+ in attendance lining the sides of the pitch and in the bleachers.
Colorado School of Mines 17 (10)
Tries: Geist, Mahanay
Conva: Corey (2)
University of Denver 21 (14)
Tries: Parker, Recene, Bram
Convs: Parker (3)
Referee: K. Weaver