Gents pull out win over Vail
August 25, 2002
When only the clock stood in the way of a Vail victory Saturday, several hundred fans at the Vail Athletic Field struck up a chorus of unpleasantries leveled at the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club.
“They were really taunting us, quite convinced they had the game under wraps,” said longtime coach Brian Going. “But you know the story …”
Indeed, it didn’t look good for the usually indomitable Gents, the six-time defending USA Rugby national champs. Aspen trailed 18-7 early in the second half before staging a late rally and stealing the match 22-18 on a last-second try by forward Karl “Salty” Siteine.
“It was a shocker, a horrible game. A good wakeup call for us, that’s for sure,” said Going, who was coaching his first Gents match since the June 8 national championship.
“Vail came out firing hard and set us back on our heels from the very first scrum. They appeared to have a pretty motivated team of English lads that were keen to do the business, and we were just not prepared for that kind of onslaught early in the match.”
Vail scored early with a three-point penalty kick, then added another five points on a try to go up 8-0. The Gents answered with a try and conversation to cut the deficit to 8-7, but Vail managed another try before the half.
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Early in the second half, Vail punched in a try to go up 18-7. “They thought that sealed it up for them,” Going said.
“The comeback” started with about ten minutes remaining, Going said, ignited by a Dean Walsh penalty kick to cut Vail’s advantage to 18-10. Forward Sean Maguire added a try with about five minutes to go, cutting the deficit to 18-17 along with a Walsh conversion.
“With about ten minutes to go, we were a man down, with one in the sin bin [penalty box], and until the last few seconds, we were through,” Going said. “But we managed to play some disciplined stuff finally.”
With less than a minute remaining, Aspen sprung the ball wide, finding Siteine on the wing where he “squirmed into the corner” for the game-winner, Going said.
“Full credit to Vail. They played a very physical game and approached it with a positive attitude, while we were really laid back. They took advantage of everything,” Going said.
For Going, who returned last week from his native New Zealand to begin Aspen’s preparations for the 35th annual Ruggerfest, Saturday’s effort served as a wakeup call.
Aspen has won the last six Ruggerfest titles, and 13 overall. The last time Aspen failed to claim the Ruggerfest trophy was Going’s second year at the helm. And that’s not something he’d like to repeat.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Going said, “a lot of new players to blood in, to sift through; and we’ve got to get back into a more sensible frame of mind with regard to how good we are.
“There’s going to be some interesting developments over the next two or three weeks.”
The preparation starts Saturday afternoon at Wagner Park as Aspen hosts Boulder for two matches (A-side and B-side).
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