Gents KO’d in semis of 7s nationals | AspenTimes.com
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Gents KO’d in semis of 7s nationals

Tim Mutrie

The Denver Barbarians came from behind to beat the Gentlemen of Aspen by one point, 15-14, in the semifinals of the USA Rugby 7s National Championships on Sunday in Park City, Utah.

Aspen went 2-1 in pool play Saturday to emerge from the field of 16 qualifiers into Sunday’s final bracket of eight teams.

The Gents beat the Potomac Athletic Club of Washington, D.C., in the quarterfinals, then ran into the Barbos in the semifinals. Denver lost to Riverside, Calif., in the national title game Sunday afternoon. Aspen settled for fourth place, its best finish in the 7s brand of rugby in recent history.

“We were leading all the way up until about five seconds in the game,” said Andrew Katoa, the Aspen 7s team’s player/coach. “Then Denver got a penalty kick, and made it, to put us out.

“Anytime you lose, it’s disappointing. But it’s especially disappointing because of how hard we worked to get here. The commitment was there, so it was tough,” Katoa continued.

The 7s team included players David Yavala, Isaac Mbereko, Tasi Mounga, Matt Blouin, Justin Stencil, Fred Waititi, Simon Dogbe, Paul Gibson, Albert Tuipulotu and Katoa.

“The boys played real well in getting us to the final four,” Katoa said. “And the bottom line is the ball just didn’t bounce our way. Sometimes you can’t do anything about that, no matter how hard you try.”

Meanwhile, the Gents’ summer-league team beat Vail 16-10 on Saturday in Vail.

Aspen recorded a try with a conversion and three penalty kicks. Vail managed two tries.

“Vail played far better that what they showed on the July Fourth weekend up here,” said Mick Melrose, coach of the summer-league side, referring to an Aspen blowout. “But we still weren’t happy with our performance. We don’t have a lot of numbers and we’re just playing with what we’ve got.”

This weekend, Aspen’s summer-league team travels to Breckenridge for the Mountain 15s Tournament. “Now that the 7s guys are finished, hopefully we’ll all get back together as a club in the preparations for Ruggerfest,” said Melrose.


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