Gentlemen rally to beat Golden Gate
With longtime captain and U.S. national rugby team player Mark Williams in the Caribbean to get married last Saturday, the Gentlemen of Aspen encountered the first bumps in the road for the 2000 season.
But the Gentlemen managed to pull away in the second half to defeat Golden Gate 32-20 to stay undefeated at 7-0.
For the Gents, the victory was doubly sweet. Golden Gate was Aspen’s opponent in last year’s national championship game (won by the Gents 32-13), and their coach, Ken Going, is the brother of Aspen coach Brian Going.
With Rio Grande Park in Aspen blanketed with a layer of snow, the game was shifted to the warmer climate of Carbondale and the practice football field at Roaring Fork High School.
The shift in venue may have unsettled the Gents somewhat, because they committed early penalties that led to two field goals by Golden Gate’s Grant Wells, which made the score 6-0 in favor of the visitors.
Aspen got back on track with a try by Ben Masoe that cut the deficit to 6-5 and then followed that up with an Ian Walker try and a Paul Gibson conversion that gave the Gents a 12-6 lead. However, just before the end of the first half Golden Gate’s Mark Scharrenberg, a member of the U.S. national team, intercepted a pass and went in uncontested for a try. Wells added the conversion kick, and Golden Gate took a 13-12 lead into halftime.
“We were outplaying them, but we gave them that try and the two penalties,” said Aspen club president Tim Francis.
Golden Gate extended its lead in the opening minutes of the second half on a try by Hugh Lintott, who played with Aspen last fall, and a conversion by Wells.
Trailing 20-12, Aspen answered right back with a try by prop Wayne Rogers after a long run by Alec Parker, another veteran of the U.S. national team and a former prep standout at Aspen High School.
And then, just minutes later, the Gents regained the lead for good when Chris Morrow broke free up the middle for a try. Gibson made both conversions to put Aspen up 26-20.
Down the stretch, Gibson, subbing admirably for Williams, also nailed a couple of penalty kicks to push the final score to 32-20.
The Gents’ B-side team also played Saturday against the U.S. Air Force Academy and not the Defiance Rugby Club of Glenwood Springs as had been scheduled. The Gents played a solid game en route to a 48-20 victory.
Aspen will have this weekend off before heading to El Paso, Texas, from April 27-30 to begin defense of the national championship at the Westerns. The grueling tournament will have the Gents playing three games in three days, so Aspen will be bringing a full 28-man roster.
The top three teams from the Westerns will advance to rugby’s national Sweet 16, scheduled for May 13-14. If history is any guide, the Gents can expect to be among those three teams as they have won the Westerns four years in a row.
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The future of the Aspen-Pitkin County airport took a significant step forward Thursday. Pitkin County commissioners decided 4-1 to accept the recommendation of a community-based committee and leave the runway where it is, a bedrock decision in the long process toward a new terminal and airfield.