Photo by Matt Stensland
Steamboat Springs rugby player Graham Muir advances the ball up the pitch Saturday at Steamboat Springs High School's Gardner Field.
Steamboat Springs A pair of long, second-half runs Saturday solidified Vail's 31-13 rugby victory against Steamboat Springs at Steamboat Spring High School's Gardner Field.
Steamboat players said a lack of discipline, combined with fatigue and failure to stick to the game plan, did them in long before Vail put the final two scores on the board.
"We wanted to move it away from their forwards and quickly recycle the ball. Our game plan was to move them around the field," Steamboat's Michael Hurley said. "It was neck and neck with 20 minutes to go, but we fell off a tackle or two and had a couple turnover balls we don't usually have."
The teams stood close after the first half, with Vail clinging to a 14-13 lead, and Steamboat even appeared as if it might be on the verge of going in front, possessing the ball deep in Vail territory.
Vail added three points on a penalty kick, however, then Trefor Davies broke free, slipping between a pair of defenders and beating the rest to the in-goal area for a try.
Vail added two points with a successful conversion, then five more moments later when Caesar Omdula also reached the in-goal area. Omdula broke down the middle of the field alone and took a relay from a teammate. He deked one Steamboat defender and cut toward the center of the field, touching the ball down for an easy five points.
"We had them a little extended and a scrum just gave me a perfect chance to hit the hole and go," Davies said. "From that point, it was just tunnel vision."
Vail didn't have any problem finding motivation for the contest. Steamboat beat Vail twice last season after years of struggling against the intra-mountain rival.
Steamboat coach and player Graham Muir said his team played Saturday without six of its normal starters, and the resulting changes in position had some effect.
Fully staffed or not, Steamboat more than matched Vail's intensity in the first half. The referee had to warn Steamboat players to settle down on several occasions, all before a number of pushing matches erupted in the second half.
"We're friends with these guys off the pitch," Vail coach Steve MacKinnon said. "But that was a war out there."
Steamboat only lost one game a year ago. Dropping the season opener didn't have Muir worried, however.
"We'll be fine. It's a wakeup call," he said. "We didn't play very well at all. Our boys just didn't show up today."