Steamboat swats Breck

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Steamboat Springs is just another stop on Glenn Blackmore's world rugby tour.

Currently, the native of New Zealand is living in the United States on a working sports visa, enabling him to play rugby within this country's borders. Normally, he is in Austin, Texas. But this summer, the Steamboat Rugby Club went to a state where American football is king to recruit rugby players.

The local club obviously knew what it was doing, as Blackmore scored three tries and served as the primary kicker in Steamboat's 41-17 whipping of Breckenridge in the opening day of the 31st annual Cowpie Classic Rugby Tournament.

"I've played rugby all over the world," Blackmore said. "Here, it's a social club. It's more relaxed, but they train hard and play hard."

For various reasons, Steamboat has had limited chances to play this summer. Saturday's opening game against Breckenridge was just the third game of the year for the team, but the local men looked like a potential champion for most of the first half.

Steamboat's Chris McConnell scored the first try of the game in the opening minute. Blackmore scored his first try seven minutes later, giving Steamboat a quick 10-0 lead.

Steamboat captain Michael Hurley scored three minutes later on a play set up off a lineout.

Blackmore added Steamboat's final try of the first half when his team swung the ball wide, allowing the quick back to find a seam in Breckenridge's defense. He cut through the line much like a running back finds a hole behind his offensive linemen.

"We like to set it up in the middle of the field and push it out wide to the wingers," Blackmore said. "The forwards do all the hard work and the backs get all the glory."

Breckenridge scored in the final minutes of the first half and was successful on its conversion kick making the score 20-7 at the half.

A try is worth five points and a conversion kick is worth two.

In rugby, a team's offensive attack is generated mostly through the opposition's mistakes, Blackmore said. Breckenridge had difficulty moving the ball down the field in the first half, and Steamboat took advantage of its possessions.

In the opening minutes of the second half, however, Breckenridge scored first, closing to within 20-12. The visiting team got no closer. Steamboat went on to outscore Breckenridge 21-10 in the second half.

Blackmore, Jon Rowe and Tim Hayes scored Steamboat's second-half tries. Hayes scored the last one and as soon as he touched the ball down in the try zone, he stayed down. Hayes was later taken to the hospital after tearing apart one of his knees.

"Tim Hayes had a great second half," said Hurley.

Steamboat later defeated Fort Collins, 24-7, to advance to today's semifinals.

"It was a tough game but we got through," Hur-ley said.

Steamboat will play Boulder at 11 a.m. today at the Ski Town fields near The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Wyoming and Fort Collins are in the other semifinal. The championship is at 2:30 p.m., and Wyoming is the defending champion.

To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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