Article by Charlie Haupt | Originally published on Queen City Rugby Football Club - Denver Facebook Page
What a match!! It took 107 minutes of Rugby to decide this epic battle between two evenly matched opponents; Sunday Morning RFC out of St. Louis, winner of Mid-America Conference, and Queen City Rams, winner of Rocky Mountain Conference. All the beep tests and suicides payed off for the Rams as they preserved and show their resilience in this epic contest that took three overtime periods and sudden death to decide. The Rams are the Frontier Competition Region (CR) Division III CHAMPIONS and have earned the right to go on to Austin Texas for the final four in the Western League and elite eight of the USA Rugby National Playoffs.
Twenty-eight Queen Citizens ventured to Columbia Missouri for the Frontier CR playoff match via car and plane. Arriving safely the boys settled into the team hotel ready to do battle against the unknown opponent Sunday Morning RFC out of St. Louis. Final preparation was made at the hotel as the squad was announced and game plan reviewed in a team meeting. The team drove to the field at the Gans Sports Complex outside of Columbia. The grass pitch was in great shape in spite of the all the rain that Missouri had been experiencing. Partly cloudy skies with the temperature in the 70s and low humidity was the order of the day as the Rams took the pitch.
As usual the team was decked out in their orange and black jumpers with matching shorts and socks. Captain Hayden Kinnear lost the toss; so, the Rams kicked-off defending the north in-goal.
The opening kick-off was contested by City; however, was knock-on. The ensuing scrum the City forwards displayed their prowess and exerted heavy pressure on the Sunday Morning (SMRFC) pack. Sunday Morning was able to recover and was able to dominate the first twenty minutes of the match. Sunday Morning opened the scoring with a penalty kick as City was deemed to be offside by Referee Aaron Haehn and his supporting Assistant Referees Cody Cagaanan and Pete Winkelbauer. Outside center Tyler Houck split the uprights to give SMRFC the lead at 3 - 0 at the 5th minute of the match.
Continuing to maintain the majority of possession, SMRFC remain on the front foot. Wing forward Mic Barringer crashed over for a 5-pointer with Houck added the extras as SMRFC extended their lead to 10 - 0 at minute 17 of the match.
At this point City came alive. From the ensuing kick-off, once again City knock-on. From the ensuing scrum, the City forwards once again exerted pressure affording bad ball for SMRFC. Their backs preceded to knock-on. The scrum was well-heeled by hooker Luke Porter and picked by No. 8 Bryan Gustafson. The ensuing ruck was won and placed in the hands of flanker Hayden Kinnear. The powerful forward made the half break to be tackled in SMRFC backline. Referee Haehn whistled Sunday Morning for leaving their feet in the ruck. Scrum half Charlie Keener slotted the penalty goal to put City on the board at 10 - 3 at the 21st minute.
The ensuing kick-off did not go the regulation 10-meters resulting in a scrum center. The ball was once again well-heeled by Porter and delivered to backs. Flyhalf Tim Flynn spotted green in behind the SMRFC backline and put the kick ahead. Racing to get the ball saw Flynn continue to kick ahead. The SMRFC winger under pressure kick the ball out the back of the in-goal resulting in a 5-m scrum. “Hammer” was the call by Captain Kinnear. The ball won and Gustafson picked. The next phase came to scrum half Keener who offloaded to winger Mike Anderson. The swift winger made a half break into the tackle; but Referee Haehn spotted a ruck infraction. Hooker Luke Porter executed a quick tap and powered his way to pay dirt. Keener split the uprights from the corner to add the extras and tie the score at 10-a-piece at minute 25.
Queen City stayed on the front foot, on the boil, and hungry for more points. However, great defense by Sunday Morning were keeping City at bay. City scrum was won cleanly by the City pack. The ball spun wide to winger Kyle Nachbar. The wily winger made the break down the far sideline. Sunday Morning was guilty of a high tackle on the swift winger. The ensuing penalty kick was placed into touch. The ensuing lineout was driven but stopped short. The City forward reverted to their power game. After two excellent phases, a “Ram” ball was called. Executed well, flanker Steve O’Malley saw the parting of the seas and darted into the in-goal for the 5-pointer. Keener converted the 2-pointer kick and City had the lead at 10 - 17 at the 38th minute. This is how the half ended as Referee Haehn blew the half-time whistle.
The second half started out much like the first half with Sunday Morning on the front foot. Dominating their will on City, SMRFC scored an unconverted try by winger Skyler Procasky at minute 54, unconverted try by No. 8 Zack Cook at minute 59, and a converted try by Skyler Procasky at minute 67 to take a 27 - 17 lead deep in the second half.
At this point Captain Kinnear rallied the troops. Finally, after a good jackal by hooker Luke Porter, City got on the front foot and on the boil. Good offensive pressure saw SMRFC being dinged for being offside by Referee Haehn. Scrum half Keener converted the penalty goal to cut into Sunday Morning lead at 27 -- 20 at the 71st minute.
Knowing they were running out of time, City executing their pattern started to throw everything at Sunday Morning. However, a knock-on deep in SMRFC territory by the City backs gave the scrum back to Sunday Morning; but, SMRFC gave it right back to City with a knock-on of their own. The scrum was won cleanly by replacement hooker Jon Wicklund and No. 8 Bryan Gustafson executed a pick and go from the base. Maintaining possession, the City forwards were hungry. After executing five phases of good clean recycle ball with backs and forwards both involved, the City pack went back into their power game. Avalanches were the order of the day and finally No. 9 Charlie Keener crashed over under the post for the 5-pointer. Keener split the sticks to bring the score line to a tie 27 - 27 at the 79th minute.
As regulation was ticking towards death, City attempted one final sortie from the ensuing kick-off; after a few phases a penalty was awarded in the center of the field 45 meters out from the post. Captain Kinnear elected to take a shot at posts to win the match. Charlie Keener struck the ball well making the distance, however the wind pushed the ball wide hitting the right post, before being knocked on by a Sunday Morning player. Referee Haehn blew the final regulation whistle sending the contest into overtime.
The contest would be decided by two 10-minute overtime periods and still tied after these two periods; a sudden death period would come into play.
Once again City kicked-off starting the first overtime period. Sunday Morning was unable to move the ball as City defensive pressure was ferocious. The first overtime period belonged to Queen City. Able to move the ball deep into SMRFC territory with good execution between the forwards and backs. Two quick phases by the forwards saw the ball moved wide to the speedy winger Nachbar. The winger broke a tackle and raced down the far sideline finally plowing his way over the try line for the 5-pointer. Scrum half Keener attempt at post from a tough angle missed to the left. City had the lead once again 27 - 32 as Referee Haehn ended the first overtime period.
Disaster nearly hit the Rams in the second overtime period. Winger Nachbar was shown a yellow card by the officiating crew for a no-wrap tackle that was a questionable call at minute 92. Sunday Morning struck back quickly after this as winger Skyler Procasky scored his hat trick. The conversion sailed wide; but the scoreboard once again showed the contest even at 32 - 32 at minute 94. Then replacement flanker James Jimenez went down with an injury and since Queen City had used all of its substitutions at this point, they were down two men with six minutes to play in the second overtime period. However, the “Men in Orange and Black” dug deep and had the fortitude to preserve under these adverse conditions. Winning the scrum down a man, City was able to clear the zone. Good defensive pressure gave the ball back to City and they were able to maintain possession for the rest of the period although not being able to score. The second overtime period came to a close sending the contest into sudden death.
The extra fitness and coming from altitude were starting to pay benefits for the boys from Colorado as the very talented Sunday Morning squad was starting to show great fatigue as the third sudden death period commenced. Finally, Captain Kinnear won a toss and choose the ball. The ensuing kick-off once again did not go the required 10-m. Still down a man in the scrum, the pack held their own to win the ensuing scrum. Tackles were being missed as City drove the ball deeper and deeper into Sunday Morning territory. The thought of a drop goal was coming into play as the forwards were attempting to position the ball into that ideal scoring range. A penalty advantage for offsides was given to City right outside the 22-meter line, during which inside center Jack White spotted a seam in the tiring SMRFC backline. With the backs calling for the ball, scrum half Keener delivered the pill to an anxiously waiting center. Whitey set off on a jaunt and broke free. 30-meters later the Queen City Rams finally had the VICTORY as Jack dotted down for the winning try at the 107th minute of the match. The final 32 - 37.
The Sunday Morning RFC crowd moaned in disbelieve and the City faithful stormed the field. Boulder RFC in supporting their fellow brethren from Colorado helped usher Queen City off the field after this epic victory. Hats off to Sunday Morning RFC as they were a worthy opponent and gave City all they could handle. They were very gracious in defeat. Great job Queen City. The entire 23-man squad and the rest of the club that traveled had a big part in getting this victory. Now it is onto stage two of the playoff run, travel to Austin Texas to play and win two very important matches for the right to play for the National Championship. GO CITY!!!
Captain Hayden Kinnear stated: “Back in the playoffs for the first time in years certainly did not disappoint. Although we didn’t close it out in regulation, the never give up attitude of QC prevailed and what more can be said then WE’RE GOING TO AUSTIN!!! Our sites are aimed higher and we need EVERYONE out at training to make sure we are prepared for two winning games in two weeks!”
President Charlie Keener: “It’s matches like this one that really show the character of the team. It took the entire bench playing extra minutes to earn the victory, everyone stepped up, everyone did their part, and we continually encouraged and made up for each other’s mistakes. I am very proud of how far this club has come and can’t wait to test ourselves again in two weeks.”
Queen City (37): Joe Kuka, Luke Porter, Andrew Yarbrough, Matt Hurley, Nate Feldman, Hayden Kinnear, Steve O’Malley, Bryan Gustafson, Charlie Keener, Tim Flynn, Mike Anderson, Jack White, Sylver Romero, Kyle Nachbar, John Hackemer
Interchange: John Vivirski (45), James Jimenez (47), Christian Addis (60), Evan Mohagen (65), Austin Cagaanan (70), Chris Cummins (70), Jon Wicklund (75), King Medlin (90)
Tries: Porter (25), O’Malley (38), Keener (79), Nachbar (89), White (103)
Goals: Keener 5 from 7
Sunday Morning (32): Ben McNeeley, Alex Crotti, Jacob Cano, Brett Schulz, Nicholas Vassel, Mic Barringer, Cameron Halloran, Zack Cook, Luke Matthews, Reed Nelson, Skyler Procasky, Jacob Homann, Tyler Houck, Ryan Lobbig, Danny Cook
Interchange: Kyle Adkisson, Jevon Berry, Tayber DeRoin, Rolando Vasquez, Dominic Kujawa, Trent Weston, Lucas Wenger, Austen Manser
Tries: Barringer (17), Procasky 3 (54, 67, 94), Cook Z. (59)
Goals: Houck 3 from 6
Scoring sequence: 3 - 0, 10 - 0, 10 - 3, 10 - 10, 10 - 17, 15 - 17, 20 - 17, 27 - 17, 27 - 27, 27 - 32, 32 - 32, 32 - 37
Penalty Count: 23 - 23
Yellow Card: Nachbar (92)
Man-of-the-Match: Jack White (Backs) and Hayden Kinnear (Forwards)
Referee: Aaron Haehn; ARs: Cody Cagaanan, Pete Winkelbauer; #4 Don Corwin
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