On a perfect rugby evening a mass of well over a thousand were entertained by an action-packed battle of in-state collegiate rivals, Colorado State University and University of Colorado at Infinity Rugby Stadium, Glendale.
The winners' form and fitness saw them by in the end, but the match was well-contested throughout in an at times free-flowing, and other times stuttering, crowd-pleaser.
The Buffs' willingness to swing the ball wide contrasted starkly with CSU’s close-in maulwork and provided an enjoyable spectacle for the raucous crowd in attendance.
The Buffaloes opened scoring after disrupting Rams lineout, and through harrying efforts of blindside Adam Paige, claimed possession.
Turnover deep inside CSU’s territory enabled crisp delivery along the three-quarter line from an attacking loose piece, and inside center Jeff Tarshis streaked through a crease for a grounding and a 5-nil CU advantage, five minutes in.
Flyhalf Ryan Walker got Rams onboard when Buffs were pinged for covering at the breakdown and Walker solved the difficult angle, and it was 5-3 at the twelfth minute.
CSU brought action hard to the Buffs with rushing jags forwards presenting queries to their counterparts early though offenses at and around point of tackle led to penalties which permitted #10Tony Quattrini to clear his lines and CU to regroup.
Theft of lineout ball allowed for quick distribution, and outside center Jordan Kennedy turned the corner on the defense, outracing a trio of pursuers to cross and lengthen the lead to a goal at 17.
Back row lock Daniel Kennedy dotted down at the end of a lengthy, patient period of Colorado continuity, and it was 15-3, 27 minutes along.
Buff pilferage at the lineout 15 meters from goal resulted in swift shifting of ball to their backs and wing Jack Porter juked inside then sprinted around a stopper to touch down for a Quattrini-converted goal as the margin widened to 22-3 with time ebbing in the half.
CSU were able to close the scoring at the whistle when Walker turned a Buff infraction at the breakdown into three points and players took a rest at 22-6. Better backline execution and effectively felonious activity at lineout by CU were the difference in the first forty.
Rams roared out of the blocks after the re-start, staking camp inside CU’s 22 for over ten minutes, though they were denied any points for their efforts until ball released outside at counterattack put CSU on the front foot. Wing Jackson Connolly blasted into a vagrant hole in the defense wall, and scooted the final ten into goal for the touch down, and Walker’s conversion brought Colorado State to within nine at minute 56.
With momentum full on CSU’s side and the Rams pressuring inside CU’s 22, a canny theft and subsequent three-quarter field finish as 5/8 Kennedy showed his pace, and the Buffs extended their margin to 29-13 with Quattrini’s convert at 59 minutes.
Rams fought desperate in the remaining twenty, but CU denial defense held them out from goal and the Buffs closed out scoring with replacement front row Aaron Ramsey dotting just before the last whistle to bring the end tally to 34-13.
Good thoughts on the Buffs: bruising, banging speed of their centers, good distribution work by Quattrini.
And for the Rams: a fully functional inaugural match for rookie tighthead R. Newell, and the solid strikes of Walker.
Next up for the CU Buffs will be a trip north this Friday for a 6pm kick at Cowboy Field in Laramie with University of Wyoming, while CSU Rams host Denver Barbarians, Saturday at 1pm on campus at the intramural fields.
CSU Rams 13 (6)
Pens: Walker (2)
CU Buffs 34 (22)
Tries: Tarshis, J. Kennedy (2), D. Kennedy, Porter, Ramsey
Conv: Walker (2)
Officials: D. Summers, D. Hattrup, J. Zevin