Steamboat Springs It seemed a key ingredient was missing in each of the past four seasons for the Steamboat Springs Rugby team. Be it inexperience or a lack of depth, the squad always seemed one element short.
On Saturday at Whistler Field, all of that changed.
The green and orange not only found the right recipe for success, they emphatically downed their biggest rival - Vail - for the fourth time this season.
With the right amount of local talent, experienced players, a top-notch coach and three talented Scotsmen, Steamboat rugby beat Vail, 42-14, capturing the Rocky Mountain League title.
"It's been a great year," Steamboat captain Michael Hurley said. "To win the league, I mean last year we were so close. We lost to Vail three times by less than three points, so we knew that extra 5 percent would get it done."
"We we're 0-3 against Vail last year and we were 4-0 against them this year," Steamboat's Jake Silverman added. "Yeah, it feels good to hand it right back at them."
On Saturday, Steamboat showed why it's the class of the league as it improved its record to 15-1.
Vail kept it close throughout the first half, trailing just 20-9 at the break. But Steamboat's depth and talent proved to be the deciding factors in the 90-degree weather.
From the outset, however, Vail was at a distinct disadvantage.
Playing with only 15 players - and 14 in the second half because of injury - Vail didn't have enough left as the last 40 minutes wore down.
Steamboat pushed its lead to 27-9 when Alistair "Big Al" Dalgleish pushed across for a try. Vail answered with a try of its own to make it 27-14, but Steamboat used its depth to score two more tries and put the game out of reach.
At "this heat and this altitude, you have to have substitutions," Vail coach and player Steve MacKinnon said. "They had that in abundance, and we held them in the first half, but we pretty much just ran out of steam."
Maybe the biggest assist of the season for Steamboat goes to Chris Baumann, who brought over the three Scotsmen - Dalgleish, Allan Steel and Graeme Blackwood - after playing with them in the winter.
"I think the three Scotsmen made the team," said Steel, who along with Dalgleish and Blackwood will head back to Scotland on Tuesday. "No, but the whole team overall, it's been wonderful."
Vail's MacKinnon, who played on the same team with the Scots while in Scotland, said Steamboat deserved to win the Rocky Mountain League title.
"Congratulations to Steamboat, and we'll gladly relinquish our title to them guys," he said. "They deserved the victory, and we'll wait until next year and maybe get our revenge."
Steamboat plays a developmental game next weekend in Crested Butte before closing the season at home against Breckenridge.
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