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Aspen Junior Gents challenge Denver 7s

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Aspen Junior Gents turned to 7s last weekend. The valleywide junior rugby team participated in the 46th annual Denver 7s tournament.

With limited experience in 7s rugby, the Junior Gents pulled off the shocker of the tournament in pool play. The Junior Gents stunned the Colorado Springs Grizzlies, the defending state champion and No. 3-ranked team in the nation.

Veterans Matt Williams, Wiehan Pretorius and Kody Fox led the attack for the Junior Gents, who earlier this year won the state Division II title in full 15s rugby.

“Winger Jerratt Miller, and hooker Michael Wampler were outstanding,” said head coach Gary Williams. “Austin Schneider scored the deciding try to ensure that the Aspen side made it into the semifinal game.”

Williams said that in the shortened 7-a-side rugby, each half consists of 7 minutes. And the game is played on a full-size field.

“Each game is a hard-running, no-rest 14 minutes,” he said, adding that the team would play, take a 45-minute break and then play again.

In the semifinals, the Junior Gents matched up against the Aurora Saracens, a Division I team.

“Luke Seamans was in sterling form with two consecutive try-saving tackles,” said Williams, who coached the Junior Gents to the full-side state championship.

Aurora led, 12-5, at the half, with Matt Williams scoring Aspen’s try.

On the restart, Aspen scored quickly, helped by Hayden Denton.

Aurora broke the 12-12 tie to go up, 19-12.

Aspen answered with a score, and Pretorius’ kick tied the game at 19-19.

The two exhausted teams, playing their fifth game of the day, had to go to sudden-death overtime. The deeper Aurora team scored, ending Aspen’s run in the semis.

The Aurora Saracens defeated Denver East to win the tournament championship.

“Newcomers to the Aspen team were Luke Seamans, Matt Ferguson, Will Van Allen and Troy Fratini, and all acquitted themselves well with no previous experience,” Williams said.

Matt Williams was selected for the all-tournament team by the tournament directors.

dstrode@aspentimes.com


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