The Austin Valkyries blanked hosts Black Ice 31-0 Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in fine rugby weather.
The Valks were first in force to breakdown and obtained a goodly amount of possession in that manner en route to a Division I, five-try performance.
The matches’ initial stages featured the travelers booting for territorial space, but Black Ice fullback Kim Hill, cool under pressure, was able to collect well the rangy kicks and return same with gusto.
“Black Ice put us under a lot of pressure around the rucks, forcing ball out wide and resulting in lateral progress, though not much forward movement,” said Austin head coach Lachlan Ferguson. “But our scrum was able to settle down to the task and we were able eventually to generate and maintain positive momentum.”
Rolling mauls and well-timed handoffs provided Valkyries with plenty of possession inside Black Ice 22 meters, but turnover ball effected by a scrappy Ice defense enabled clearance kicks by flyhalf Diana Larson to relieved the threat early on until Valk fullback Rachel Muir, filling the three-quarter line, stepped into space at Black Ice’s 10 meter line and outraced pursuit for a Kandis Ruiz-converted goal and a 7-0 margin at 17 minutes.
Austin pounded away at Denver’s gainline repeatedly in multiple-phase, forward-driven attacks, but the hosts contained well the Valkyrie surges until ball swung from the loose saw a textbook inside center switch put #12 Rachel Osborn through the gap cleanly to dot beside the post. Ruiz’ conversion extended the Austin lead to 14 at 34 minutes, closing out scoring for the half.
Black Ice came out of the blocks quickly at the second stanza’s start and threatened the Austin line, but failure to maintain possession at their lineout inclose allowed Austin to clear their lines.
At minute 55, tighthead Nick James slipped through a gap in Ice’s defensive wall at the host’s 22, and scooted to the posts for Ruiz’ third converted goal and a 21-0 margin.
Picks and plunges by the Valkyrie pack were well-contained by the Ice backrow forwards until lineout ball pilfered at Ice’s 10 meter line had the Valks rumbling upfield along touch inside the 22. Ruiz, in support at the breakdown, found space weakside as she fended off a stopper and sprinted the last 20 into goal: 26-0 at 73 minutes. Ruiz picked up her brace at the whistle looping, filling, and touching down to make the final 31-0.
“We’ve a good number of rookies on the side and every week is an opportunity to improve and work together as a team which is evident,” reports Black Ice captain, blindside Caitlin O’Connor. “Our coaching staff has really come together and worked us hard, and each individual player’s positive development from week to week is encouraging.”
Ferguson credits the strong work of his pack as being a decider in the match, though, “Our fitness carried us in the end.”
Next up for the clubs: Austin Valkyries host St. Louis Sabres @ Burr Field, 4pm 10/1/11, and Black Ice play Chicago North Shore @ 10am, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, 9/24/11.
Black Ice 0
Austin Valkyries 31
Tries: Muir, Osborn, James, Ruiz 2
Convs: Ruiz 3
Referee: G. Beynon