Gents take aim at K.C. Saturday
After a week off for the Easter holiday, the undefeated Gentlemen of Aspen resume their USA Rugby Super League schedule on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Rio Grande Park against the Kansas City Blues.
And Aspen, 3-0 overall, expects Kansas City, 2-1, to be a formidable test.
“I believe that they’ve got quite a strong forward pack, and if you give them control of the game, they can cause problems for you,” first-year Aspen coach Mick Melrose said Thursday. “But in some ways, I think it’s an advantage that I don’t know much about them – so we don’t focus too much on them.”
“Really, the next three weeks” – at home against K.C., then on the road at the New York Athletic Club and Boston, April 24 and May 1, respectively – “will determine a number of things for us as a team,” continued Melrose. “Firstly, what position we’ll be able to attain in the preliminary [playoff] rounds, and secondly, how seriously we can compete for the entire competition.”
Kansas City’s only loss, it should be noted, came in a close game against OMBAC, the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club of San Diego, a team that perennially advances to the final four of the USA Rugby Super League national tournament.
And Melrose said the week off for Easter was both good and bad for the team.
“Bye weeks are always good and bad,” he said. “They’re good for the fact that if you’ve got some injuries, it gives you time. … But the bad thing about having a week off so early in the season is that you can lose a bit of concentration, a bit of momentum, and only time will tell on that front.”
“Last week was a bit of a nothing week,” Melrose continued, “but we had a really good session on Tuesday and that’s followed through the rest of this week.”
Aspen opened the Super League season with a 29-10 win at the Potomac Athletic Club. At home against the Olympic Club Blues of San Francisco next, Aspen won 75-8. And two weeks ago, the Gents bested the Dallas Harlequins 49-33.
“We’re still getting to know each other, still trying to get on the same page with each other,” Melrose said. “We started to address the defense during Tuesday night’s training session, but areas like defensive strategies can only improve each week. You just can’t change it overnight. Stage one was getting our attack right, where we’re scoring points, and we’ve got that down, and stage two is getting it right defensively.
“I think in the back of everyone’s minds we’d like to be playing our best football in May, but the quicker we can get there, obviously, the better.”
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American giant slalom stud Ted Ligety won six times at Birds of Prey, be it five World Cups and/or gold in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, but we have to remember what a struggle it was for him to get there.