Gents come up short against defending league champs |

Gents come up short against defending league champs

Nate Peterson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS ” In a physical match Saturday against defending Rocky Mountain Rugby League champion Steamboat Springs, one penalty kick proved to be the difference.

The Gentleman of Aspen, playing their second of three road matches to open the summer season, gave the home side all it could handle, but couldn’t pull out the victory, falling, 20-17, at Gardner Field.

“We just ran out of time,” Gents coach Fred Waititi said. “We were down 10 points at one stage, then we’d inch back, then they’d go out again. We were finishing a lot better later in the game than when we started, it’s just a case of guys learning that they’ve got to lay the foundation at the beginning of the game, not halfway through.”

The Gents found themselves in a hole early in the first half after Steamboat took a 7-0 lead. Aspen answered with a long run that ended in a try, then tied the match with a conversion.

The exchange was a sign of things to come. Two minutes later, Steamboat added another try, followed by a conversion from Calum Blackwood.

Blackwood’s foot proved valuable late in the second half when he drilled two penalty kicks.

Aspen booted a penalty kick of its own in the second half. In the match’s waning minutes, Waititi pulled the Gents to within three when he wove his way through a pack of Steamboat defenders for a try, followed by a conversion.

Aspen couldn’t mount another attack before the final whistle, however.

“We knew it was going to be close,” Waititi said. “We had a couple of opportunities to score, which we didn’t take. That was the difference. It was pretty close the whole the way and pretty physical. They’re a good side, and we’re pretty good ourselves.”

Next up for the Gents is a match at 1 p.m. Saturday in Glenwood Springs against Defiance Rugby Club. The Gents split their away-and-home series with Defiance last summer, losing on the road and winning at home.

Waititi said he expects another physical, tight match.

“They gave us a good dusting up last year, so we can’t take them lightly at all,” he said.

After that, Aspen will play its first home match of the summer, on July 4, against longtime rival Vail.

After three matches on the road, the home match will be a nice reward, Waititi said.

“It’s certainly not our choice of ways to do it, but we don’t have any other option,” he said. “The upside is that, after Glenwood, our next three games we play at our field. That should allow us to get some continuity at home.”